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Gearhart Ridge Path Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The green tunnel of the Gearhart Ridge Path (bobcat)
Pink honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula), Gearhart Ridge Path (bobcat)
Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia), Necanicum Estuary (bobcat)
Entire-leaved gumweed (Grindelia integrifolia), Necanicum Estuary (bobcat)
The loop using the Ridge Path and beach in Gearhart (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Gearhart TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Necanicum Estuary
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 30 feet
  • High Point: 30 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Settled by Philip Gearhart in the 1850s, the area of low dunes north of the Necanicum Estuary became a destination for 19th century day trippers taking the train down from the Astoria ferry terminal. In those days, the single "street" headed north-south and from it trails split off to the beach. The Ridge Path, as it is now known, is a reminder of those times, a right-of-way ambling past cottage back yards and crossing dead end streets. Visitors to Gearhart can loop back along the golf course and visit the Necanicum Estuary, a haven for seabirds at all times of the year.

The Ridge Path begins on the right side of City Hall. Pass by back yards and cross 1st through 7th Streets before turning left on 8th Street. Sitka spruce, western hemlock, salal, shore pine and blooming pink honeysuckle line the trail, sometimes making it feel quite secluded. Also, there are invasives like cherry laurel and holly. At one point, right above the trail, you'll see two modern "totem poles" carved out of rooted tree trunks. The last block is grassy and then you go left on 8th Street up to N. Cottage Street. Cross this road and walk on the gravel path on the shore pine-lined west side. Watch for golfers out on the course to your right. When you reach 3rd Street, turn right and walk by large beach residences, crossing N. Marion and N. Ocean.

Continue straight on a path through shore pine dotted, grassy dunes, with beach peas and seaside lupine blooming in the summer. An overlook has benches on the left and right. At the beach, you can look north to Sunset Beach and all its cars, but no vehicles are allowed down here at the Necanicum Spit. You can see south to Tillamook Head and its lighthouse. The hotels of Seaside are also visible across the mouth of the Necanicum River. In summer, you may see numerous pelicans flapping about, some gliding low over the breakers. Down near the mouth of the river, hundreds of these large birds may be gathered on low sandbars. Caspian terns will also be out in force. Gray Heerman's gulls also hang out here, and several bald eagles sometimes cluster around the river mouth. Cut through the dunes at the point, noting blooming sea rocket and yellow sand-verbena. Reach the mudflats of the Necanicum Estuary. A trail leads left along the shore below the grassy dunes. At least three kinds of sedge are growing here: American bulrush, seacoast bulrush, and the spectaculary-headed large-headed sedge. There are many other estuarine blooms in the summer as well. Continue around the curve of the dune, passing one path leading up Necanicum Spit, which is a snowy plover nesting area. In the estuary inlet, you'll see the snaking course of a backwater. A stepped gravel path leads up from here through Scots broom towards a flagpole. Continue straight to Wellington Avenue.

Walk straight out past the intersection with G Street and turn right on F Street. Keep past the big, walled estate on the right and pass the junctions with Cottage St. and Hager St. About 15 yards past the Hager junction, go left on the Ridge Path. Shore pines, Sitka spruce, hemlock and salal line the path here. It’s six blocks past several more back yards to Pacific Way and your vehicle.

NOTE: Necanicum Spit is a Western Snowy Plover Management Area. Between March 15th and September 15th, dogs must be on leash and no vehicles are allowed. See Western Snowy Plover and the Oregon Coast (Oregon Parks & Recreation).


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Snowy plover restrictions apply 3/15 to 9/15 at Necanicum Spit. Dogs must be on leash.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Oregon Beaches: A Traveler's Companion by John Shewey
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout

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.