Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Ecola Creek Forest Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

West Fork Ecola Creek, Ecola Creek Forest Reserve (bobcat)
Large Sitka spruce, Ecola Creek Forest Reserve (bobcat)
One of the ancient cedars, Ecola Creek Forest Reserve (bobcat)
Fording the West Fork, Ecola Creek Forest Reserve (bobcat)
The hike in the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve (bobcat) (Not a GPS track) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Ecola Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Ecola Creek Ancient Cedars
  • Hike Type: In and out with loop
  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 445 feet
  • High Point: 300 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Cannon Beach’s water supply originates in the low hills just east of the town. The forest reserve here, which encompasses the North and West Forks of Ecola Creek and their tributaries, does see some logging, but certain watersheds are protected. You can hike along the main road to stand in awe below several western red-cedars that are several hundred years old. In a addition, a short hiking loop takes you along a slope and then back down for a ford of Ecola Creek’s West Fork. Looking for spawning coho salmon here.

Ignore the stepped trail leading up the slope from the parking area: this leads directly onto private land. Instead walk past the white gate and information kiosk. The road dips, with the Sitka spruce/salmonberry bottomland of Tributary L on your left. Up to your right is a clearcut rapidly becoming choked with alders. Rise and enter spruce/hemlock woodlands with the West Fork of Ecola Creek flowing down to your left. Rise again as the clearcut reappears on the slope to your right. Pass a road leading off to the left – this will be your return from a short loop. Walk up a hill to an information kiosk and picnic table under powerlines. A small water treatment facility with ponds stands on the grassy slope below.

Continue on the road as it drops close to the West Fork and passes an intake valve. Cross the road bridge over the West Fork and enter a lush coastal rain forest of Sitka spruce and western red-cedar carpeted by sword fern. Pass the small post at Elk Creek Road-Forest Loop Trail Junction. Continue up the hill past a yellow gate. Look out for the huge old cedars on both sides of the road. When you reach a junction, you can go left on a dead end spur below another ancient cedar to one of the springs that is a drinking water source for the community of Cannon Beach. You can walk farther along the main road to other springs, but the junction is a good return point.

Head back to the Elk Creek Road-Forest Loop Trail Junction, and go right. Follow a chip trail on an old road bed. In the cool months on a wet day, watch for numerous rough-skinned newts on the trail! Hike above a spruce/hemlock swamp and then up the Tributary K gully. Cross the creek on a footbridge and walk in secondary forest to a road bed. Drop down this spongy track to a junction, where you go left (You can explore right on old road beds, but will soon need to ford the North Fork of Ecola Creek). Head down under powerlines and take a causeway across a sedge/cattail swamp.

Reach the West Fork and ford it: going barefoot is fine: the gravel bed is relatively even, and most days the creek is flowing slowly not more than knee-deep. There is slick mud on both banks, so take care entering and emerging. The track reaches the lawns below the water treatment facility: these are often frequented by elk. Here you can wipe your feet on the grass before donning socks and shoes. At a fork in the road, go right to rejoin the main road and hike out to the trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Ford of West Fork Ecola Creek

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness

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.