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Cathedral Tree-Coxcomb Hill Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Astoria and the Megler Bridge from the Astoria Column (bobcat)
Base of the Cathedral Tree (bobcat)
Boardwalk, Cathedral Tree Trail (bobcat)
Detail, Astoria Column (bobcat)
The short hike to Coxcomb Hill, Astoria (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Irving Avenue TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Astoria Column
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 565 feet
  • High Point: 595 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The forested ridge of Coxcomb Hill, which rises above the city of Astoria, holds a couple of extraordinary sights that can be visited using a small network of trails. One is a 300+ year-old Sitka spruce that sprouted from a nurse log and has now reached about 8 1/2 feet in diameter and 200 feet in height. The final destination of this hike is the top of the Astoria Column, only 125 feet high but whose observation deck can be reached via a spiral staircase. From the deck, take in the views south towards Saddle Mountain and west towards the mouth of the Columbia River.

From the small Irving Avenue Trailhead, take the Richard Fencsak Cathedral Tree Trail behind a white gate (Fencsak was a trail builder and owner of a local bike shop). Coltsfoot and skunk-cabbage bloom along here in early spring. The trail, initially a wide gravel path, rises under Sitka spruce, western hemlock, salmonberry, salal, and red elderberry. The area is more open now since a big December 2007 windstorm. Little interpretive signs explain some plants along the trail. Keep ascending into woods that are less devastated and reach a wooden staircase that leads to a boardwalk. At a junction, go left about 40 yards to the Cathedral Tree, a large Sitka spruce with a buttress-like base that remains standing although the devastation around it leaves it rather isolated.

Head back to the junction and keep left along the boardwalk. The trail rises straight up on steps and then begins a meandering, rooty, muddy path through the mossy woods of hemlock and alder. Drop down to the right and pass through an elderberry/ salmonberry/ alder thicket before reaching a junction at a saddle. The trail down to the left leads to a private quarry. Ascend past a second junction; the trail to the right descends to Irving Avenue: this is your return route for the lollipop loop. Hike through an elderberry thicket, and note the lush oxalis carpet under the hemlock and spruce. Pass a communications tower that is neatly set back among the spruce and cross the road to the Astoria Column. You can take the 166-step spiral staircase (entry is free) to the little viewing platform 125’ up the Column and admire the views: Saddle Mountain, the Youngs River, Youngs Bay, and Lewis & Clark River, the mouth of the Columbia, the Astoria-Megler Bridge and Astoria itself. You may even hear the sea lions at the East Mooring Basin (See the Astoria Riverwalk Hike). Descend to read interpretive signs about Lewis & Clark and a replica of the burial canoe of Chief Concomly, a Chinook chieftain.

You can return the way you came or make a loop using Irving Avenue. To accomplish the latter, head down to the saddle and, just before reaching it, go left on the trail that leads to Irving Avenue. Pass under a mossy elderberry bower and enter hemlock woods. At a junction, go right and wind down steeply. At another junction, go left over a footbridge in a soggy bog. The trail braids and then loops around to the right to reach a gravel road (actually 22nd Street). Drop down past homes to Irving Avenue and go right to 28th Street.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No charge for the Astoria Column, but a $5 parking fee if you drive there
  • Dogs on leash; dogs not permitted in the Column
  • Restrooms and interpretive signs and exhibits at the Column

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon's North Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.