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Harts Cove Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

TKO put tools to trail here.png
Chitwood Falls at Harts Cove (cfm)
On the trail above Cliff Creek (bobcat)
Looking towards Cascade Head from the meadow (bobcat)
Sea lion swimming below the cliffs at Harts Cove (bobcat)
Map of the trail route (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Harts Cove TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Harts Cove Overlook
  • Trail log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Distance: 5.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 1220 feet
  • High point: 1,020 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: July 16th to December 31st
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

NOTICE: The access road (FR 1861) to the trailhead is closed due to a slide about half a mile from Highway 101. The trail is not closed but now can only be accessed from the Knights Park Trailhead for Cascade Head or from the Cascade Head South Trailhead using the Rainforest Trail to FR 1861.

The trail down to Harts Cove puts you on the edge of a cliff looking down into a churning inlet fed by a narrow waterfall. Seabirds, seals, and sea lions can often be seen in the area, and the walk to Harts Cove takes you through some lush old-growth stands of hemlock and Sitka spruce. The headland meadow provides habitat for the Oregon silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene hippolyta), while the surrounding forest harbors spotted owls and nesting marbled murrelets. The trail is closed for half of the year to protect these threatened species.

The Harts Cove Trail starts out by switchbacking downhill through a young coastal forest, where very little light reaches the forest floor and undergrowth is sparse. Evidence of logging is plentiful with very large stumps common. The trail loses 500 feet of elevation in 0.9 miles to a crossing of Cliff Creek. Beyond this, the trail levels and the forest becomes older, with some of these trees more than 250 years old. After another mile, you'll round a bend where a bench offers your first view of Harts Cove. It's also in this area you may begin to hear sea lions barking on the beaches below.

The trail turns eastward and enters the drainage of Chitwood Creek. You'll pass through some particularly impressive sawed logs, some nearly five feet thick. The bridge over the creek is gone, so you might get wet feet if stream levels are high. However, the real goal and highlight is the meadow at the end of the hike. This entire area is closed in the spring, but flowers bloom here well into August. Look for lupine and violets mixed in with other plant life. Especially in July when the area has just opened, this can get very thick with grass and wildflowers, making footing tricky. Aim for a cluster of trees below and to the left for a nice seating area with a view of Harts Cove and a waterfall where Chitwood Creek cascades onto the beach.

Most of us will probably be content with the meadow and the views, but there is a steep, rugged trail to a spot near the water. Fish come close to the shore here in late fall, so at that time you will probably see a few fishing boats supported by flocks of gulls and rafts of sea lions. Harbor seals can often be seen in Harts Cove.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No fees
  • Trail closed Jan 1 - Jul 15 (these dates sometimes change; be sure to check)

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Extraordinary Oregon! by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes: Oregon Coast by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Best Hikes with Children: Western & Central Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • 52 Hikes for 52 Weeks by Franziska Weinheimer (Hike Oregon)
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Siuslaw Forest Hikes by Irene Lilja & Dick Lilja
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop

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.