I had the good fortune and privilege of meeting and working with Nettie at my last clinic, The Center for Hematologic Malignancies, at OHSU Knight Cancer on the hill. Nettie is an absolutely amazing badass, and I count myself lucky to be her friend! She is always up for an adventure, loves to hike, and loves good food! (The trifecta!!)
One of my favorite hikes on the Oregon Coast is Cascade Head Trail. You park in the lot by the boat ramp (I recommend getting here early, as it does fill up quick), then head back up the road, turning left to hike up the hill. There is a trail to the right of the road, though I have seen people walk along the road before, I just like the trail better. The trail will come up to the road eventually – continue along the road until you see the trail head to your right, next to a big a** tree. This trail is moderately challenging in my opinion, due to elevation gain, high proportion of tree roots to mud content, but it is 100% worth it- just be prepared to get dirty.
On this hike, you do quite a bit of meandering through the forest, over a couple little bridges, until you come out of the treeline into a beautiful meadow overlooking the ocean.
There were some wild flowers in bloom also. Keep in mind that part of this is Nature Conservancy property, and some kind of rare butterfly lives here, so please, stay on the trail and follow marked closures! At this point, the trail turns a little more winding/sheep/cow trail at times. I wished that I had my hiking poles on the way back down.
As with any Oregon Coast trip, you have to be prepared for fog/rain/wind/poor conditions. Though it did impede the view slightly in the beginning, I kind of liked how the fog rolled in and out, then burned off a little towards the end.
When we made it to the top (every time I have done this hike, when I get to the top I think “FINALLY!”), we had a snack, then headed back down. The trail was definitely getting busier, but the fog started to burn off.
We went to grab lunch at The Wildflower Grill in Lincoln City. This cute little restaurant is my favorite one in town – and I’ve tried most of them! I’ve had breakfast and lunch here multiple times, and it has NEVER disappointed. My favorite is to sit in the “sun-room” area, watching the birds (BABY DUCKS THIS TIME) float around on the pond while enjoying a delicious meal (my all time favorite there is the Seafood Omelette).
Then, since we had so much time left, we decided to squeeze in one more quick hike at God’s Thumb (or Thumb Loop Hike, or The Knoll, etc). This one is a little tricky parking wise. It is at the end of Road’s End, (oh so literal)! You have to walk past the gate at the end of the road to get to the start of the trail (phew, complicated). You’ll probably see the cars parked along the road in front of houses- get turned around at the dead end and join them!
Take the road on the left, past the metal gate and walk up the gravel road a short ways until you see a trail open up on your right. This trail is short, easy to get to, and popular, so people tend to do a little off-road adventuring. Please be aware of your impact on the environment and try to stick to the main path (usually it appears as a much more established trail). This short hike meanders through woods, and again opens on a meadow right above the ocean. The knoll or “thumb” sticks up like something out of a Dr Seuss book.
Climb the stair-step hill to the top for a marvelous view north and south along the coast. Careful on the way back down!
I brought our dogs here once. They had a great time, but the cliff is a steep drop off. I don’t trust our cute (but sometimes not too smart) pups, and coming back down God’s Thumb with them
trying to kill me was challenging – I wouldn’t bring them back again. Here they are, enjoying the view on a sunny day in September of 2017.
When Nettie and I were hiking in, a man passing us on his way out told us to keep an eye out for the whales. I have never seen whales here, and I honestly thought he was messing with us, but we diligently sat down and kept a weather eye out on the horizon. SURE ENOUGH, SO MANY WHALES!!! And they were migrating so close to shore!!! I don’t have a great zoom lens yet (recommendations welcome!), but we had a great time watching for them! (PS. Whale spouts and tales are REALLY hard to take pictures of. I have a serious respect for wildlife photographers in more ways than one!!)
Also, we are 100% sure we saw a baby whale. And you won’t be able to convince us otherwise. Just sayin’. And no, I didn’t get a picture of it. Just trust us.
I love the ocean and everything to do with it. I even love the gray, foggy, wet weather of the Oregon Coast. It’s my favorite place to be. This adventure was soo much fun, made even better by great company!
Let me know if you have any questions, or recommendations for other PNW beach hikes/adventures/eateries!