Tillamook Head Traverse Hike
From Portland Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Tillamook Head Trailhead
- End point: Indian Beach Trailhead
- Trail Log:
- Hike Type: Traverse
- Distance: 6.3 miles
- Elevation gain: 1350 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: All
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: Yes
- Crowded: Only on summer weekends
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 Lighthouse. 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 Head Lighthouse.
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 Neahkanie 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.
Sky Island Graphics: Oregon Coast Area Trails
Regulations or Restrictions, etc.
- Ecola State Park (one end of the shuttle hike) has a fee of $5.00 per day.
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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
- 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don and Roberta Lowe
- 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don and Roberta Lowe
- 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 Hikes by Paul M. Williams
- Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
- 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
- Brochure for the trail markers along this hike
- The Story of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse
- Close-up photo of the lighthouse taken in 2006 by Michael Cruson
- Recent History of the lighthouse