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Tillamook Head Traverse Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View of "Terrible Tilly" along the trail (cfm)
Tillamook Head Bunker near Hikers Camp (Martell)
Boardwalk on the often soggy trail (bobcat)
Route of the trail over Tillamook Head (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo


Hike Description

This traverse hike can be shuttled by beginning at either the Indian Beach Trailhead or the Tillamook Head Trailhead. The Indian Beach Trailhead is in Ecola State Park, north of Cannon Beach. The Tillamook Head Trailhead is on the south side of Seaside. This hike is mostly forested but offers occasional ocean views, including Hikers Camp, with a viewpoint of the Tillamook Rock Light. In this area there are also some WWII era bunkers.

From the Tillamook Head Trailhead, the trail begins opposite a relatively new, gated development by signs extolling Elmer Feldenheimer. Cross a creek, head up and switchback. A sign proclaims Ecola Point is 7 miles and Hikers’ Camp is 4 miles. This is lush Sitka spruce, hemlock, alder, deer fern, sword fern, and salal forest. The trail veers right above a gulley and levels. Pass a giant spruce and a gap in the trees giving a view out on the ocean. Soon, circumvent an area of spruce/hemlock blowdown and traverse up, switchback, and pass a huge Sitka spruce. There are 15 more switchbacks before you make a level traverse across an alder slope and head up. Pass a spur leading through a salmonberry thicket to the left. It reaches a road track. Heading right on this would take you to the unprepossessing summit of the Head. On the main trail, continue through mossy woods and switchback up. The trail drops and rises through hemlock woods. There are short stretches of boardwalk. The trail drops and a spur leads tight to a viewpoint. There’s more boardwalk and then the trail drops along the edge of the cliff. In the vicinity of Clarks’ Viewpoint, the trail undulates along the edge of the cliff and passes a massive 10’ diameter rotted stump. There are huge springboarded stumps attesting to aggressive logging in the past. Find a viewpoint to the right as you enter second-growth spruce forest. Eight short switchbacks take you down to the Hikers’ Camp and its little log shelters. Go right down a road track and pass the old battery emplacements, now safely gated up. This track ends eventually at a viewpoint which looks across to the Tillamook Rock Light.

After passing the outhouse at Hikers' Camp, go right on the hiking trail between two huge stumps and into secondary forest. This area can become overgrown, but there are many berries to be had along the way at the right time of year. The trail drops and you can see the service road below, the other leg of the Clatsop Loop Hike. Keep heading down past larger spruce trees and then descend a grassy hillside of younger spruce, salal, and sword fern. Make two switchbacks, getting a view south to Neahkahnie Mountain, and then two more switchbacks before you wind down to some clifftop viewpoints. The trail turns inland past some large spruces. The road is again visible just below. Reach a bench and a lovely viewpoint over Indian Beach, and then head left and down across a footbridge over Indian Creek to the loop junction, whence you go right to the parking area at Indian Beach.

The 1.5 mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail from here to the Ecola State Park Trailhead was washed out in 2017. To continue farther, you will need to hike the road until a new trail section is constructed.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Ecola State Park (one end of the shuttle hike) has a fee of $5.00 per day.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • One Night Wilderness: Portland by Douglas Lorain
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Oregon's Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide by Chandra LeGue
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don and Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don and Roberta Lowe
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein and Andrew Jackman
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • A Hiker's Guide to the Oregon Coast Trail by David E.M. Bucy & Mary C. McCauley
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannon
  • Hiking Oregon's History by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Favorites: Trails and Tales by William L. Sullivan

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.