Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua has been on my list for a long time (I know I say that about almost every hike…), ever since my boyfriend told me about it when we first met ~3 years ago. We’ve been wanting to go for a long time, but it’s so darn far from Portland: 3.5 hours!

Today I finally got the chance, as I was in Corvallis, OR for the weekend and only had to drive 1.5 hours to Cape Perpetua. I parked at the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center and took the Cape Cove Trail under the highway, then took a left turn towards Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn. After checking out those views, I went back to the original intersection and took the right turn, leading towards Devil’s Churn. After seeing Devil’s Churn, I went back the way I came and back to the Visitor’s Center. My entire route was about 2.5 miles and 450 feet in elevation gain.

Thor’s Well is a big hole in the tidepools, most likely started as a sea cave, that appears to drain the ocean. With each wave, water crashes into the walls and sprays the surrounding area. I don’t think I went at the right time, but try to time your visit an hour before high tide so you can see the well fill up and then produce explosive waves.

Right after Thor’s Well is Spouting Horn, an “ocean geyser.” With each wave, water is forced through a hole in the shore and produces what looks like a geyser. This was my favorite attraction of the trip. If you go back past Thor’s Well and follow the trail to Devil’s Churn, you’ll pass beautiful ocean views and coastal forests.

Devil’s Churn

After Devil’s Churn, I headed back to the Visitor’s Center where I parked and realized that I was only a 20 minute drive from the Florence Sea Lion Caves. Again, this is something I’ve wanted to see since I was a little kid.

Sea Lion Caves

The Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon have been privately owned since 1932 and costs $14 admission for adults. It is the largest sea cave in America and has wild Stellar Sea Lions and California Sea Lions that come and go as they please. I am glad that I went, but overall the attraction is probably much better for young children and very overpriced. You’ll take an elevator down to the caves, and there’s pretty much one window that you can look through to see the cave. Including reading every sign and watching a 6-minute documentary, I was in-and-out in about 15 minutes. I just hope the price of admission goes towards sea lion conservation, in which case it is justified.

Quick Facts

  • Views of Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn, and Devil’s Churn
  • Park and start trail at Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center (NOT day use area and NOT the Cape Perpetua Trailhead that Google maps will take you to)
  • Recreation pass needed
  • ~2.5 miles and 450 feet elevation gain
  • Out-and-back type
  • Access to beaches and tidepools

Pros

  • Accessible for people of varying fitness levels (and dogs)
  • Beautiful views of the ocean
  • Several other trails and campgrounds nearby
  • Close to Florence Sea Lion Caves

Cons

  • Trail is paved and alongside the highway, so it is not as remote and natural as I would like
  • Sea Lion Caves is overpriced and better suited for young children
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Cape Falcon

Finally, I went on a hike without a waterfall!  I actually found Cape Falcon by googling “hikes near Cannon Beach” and choosing a moderately difficult one.  It was my dog Kiki’s first time at the ocean and her first real hike with me so I didn’t want to start her out on something too difficult.

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Absolutely beautiful trail reminded me of the Olympic National Rainforest with all the ferns.

About a mile in to the trail is a fork in which the left path goes down to the campground and a beach.  The right path continues for another mile and a half to Cape Falcon.  On the way up I decided to head to the Cape first and catch the beach on the way back.  I saw a group of about 20 people on a mushroom picking guided hike, which was pretty cool.  I don’t think I would trust myself to identify which mushrooms are safe to eat, but I think it would be fun to pick mushrooms on a hike!

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First view of Neahkahnie Mountain from the trail.

It is about 2.5 miles to Cape Falcon and maybe 500 feet elevation gain, but starts to get EXTREMELY muddy halfway through.  Most of the trail is exposed tree roots with mud puddles in between, which would be fine if I had worn waterproof shoes (I just wore my Nikes), but for a 7 pound Maltese, each tree root was an obstacle for her to jump over.  She also hates getting her paws wet or muddy (I know she’s a spoiled princess) so we went pretty slow for most of the trail.

Cape Falcon has great views of Neahkahnie Mountain and the Pacific Ocean waves crashing against the cliffs.  You can sit and have a snack and walk around to get different ocean views in all directions.

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This is facing the direction opposite of Neahkahnie Mountain.  Views all around!!

On the way back down, I decided to take the route to beach access because Kiki had never seen the beach before.  It is a little over a quarter mile to the beach from the sign on the trail.  It was not a crowded beach because I don’t think many people know about it.  There is also a campground right by the beach that I’d love to stay at one day.  I have never been beach camping but it sounds lovely to sleep listening to the ocean.  I did not spend much time at the beach because it turns out my silly dog hates water and would not even walk in the wet sand…

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Some surfers at the beach, but otherwise quite private and not crowded.

Quick Facts

  • ~5 miles round trip, ~1000 feet elevation gain total
  • Beach access
  • Good parking, no pass needed

Pros

  • Not too crowded
  • Quiet, lesser known beach
  • Beautiful rainforest-like scenery with views of the ocean

Cons

  • Extremely muddy, uneven trail