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Coastal Forest Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Big Sitka spruce, Coastal Forest Trail (bobcat)
Sand Island and Cape Disappointmnet from the Coastal Forest Trail (bobcat)
Trilliums, Coastal Forest Trail (bobcat)
Sketch of the interpretive trail (not a GPS track) (bobcat)
  • Start point: Coastal Forest TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Baker Bay Viewpoint
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 130 feet
  • High Point: 90 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

This little loop hike give visitors a taste of the mossy, old growth magnificence that once shrouded these shores. Most of the big trees are Sitka spruce, but there are also a few large western hemlocks. The trail is rooty and often soggy, redolent of skunk-cabbage in season. You can take a spur out to a vista over Baker Bay as far as the harbor of Ilwaco and also get views back to the Coast Guard station at Cape Disappointment. See if you can pick up a key to the numbered interpretive posts at the park fee booth.

From the parking area, hike up into alder, spruce, and elderberry woods. At a junction, go right to begin the loop and traverse up. You will get views through the trees of the Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station. Pass a large Sitka spruce and then walk by the junction with a cutoff trail. The main trail now descends through a fringe of trillium, angle-leaf bitter cress, and false lily-of-the-valley, which bloom here in the spring. Switchback at another large spruce and then switchback again below some seeps in mixed hemlock/spruce forest. Dip into a gully harboring skunk-cabbage and head up to a short spur trail, which leads right to a view of Sand Island. Rise through a salal thicket and drop into another gully, passing more large spruce festooned with leathery polypody ferns. Rise again to a junction.

Here go right on a rooty spur to a point from which you can see across wetlands to Baker Bay and Ilwaco’s harbor. There are also views across the Columbia to Sand Island and Saddle Mountain. Back at the main trail, head right and ascend gradually in spruce/hemlock woods. The trail loops around a gnarly western hemlock and past more massive spruce. Pass the junction with the cutoff trail and descend to get glimpses of O’Neil Lake below. The trail levels and closes the loop. Turn right to head back to parking.

For a little additional walking, take the sidewalk along the road heading towards the bay. You’ll pass a fish cleaning table carved out of a block of basalt, part of Maya Lin’s Confluence Project. There’s a restroom at the parking area for the boat launch, and a short trail leads to a willow-shaded view over Baker Bay. It's also a short walk from the Coastal Forest Trailhead to the beginning of the Cape Disappointment Hike.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Park hours 5 a.m. - 12 a.m.
  • Dogs on leash.
  • $10 day use or Discover Pass

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon’s North Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Washington Hiking by Scott Leonard
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris
  • Washington State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Marge & Ted Mueller

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.