Cascade Head

  • Level: Moderate (from lower trailhead)
  • Length: 4.2 miles
  • Elevation: 1,200 ft. gain
  • Type: out and back
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: n/a
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Drive time from Portland: 2 hours
  • Google map: “Knight County Park”
  • Features: Siuslaw National Forest, Pacific Ocean, Oregon coast, VIEWS
  • Pair with: Drift Creek Falls, coastal adventures near Lincoln City

This trail is such a stunner. The whole area is. Huge Sitka Spruces doing freaky shit, salmonberry tunnels, grassy trail cut into a wide open headland with views and VIEWS. I loved it! I can’t wait to return to do the other trails (the upper trailhead and Hart’s Cove), which are closed January 1 – July 15 to protect endangered butterflies and threatened wildflowers. Occasionally, I’ll trespass a seasonally closed trail, but I don’t mess with endangering habitat.

There are two fantastic viewpoints in the last 0.6 mile to the top of the trail. In fact, the first one is better than the final one, so if the climb is getting you down, you can turn around at the first viewpoint without sacrificing any views, shaving off 1.2 miles and about 700 feet of elevation.

From the trailhead:

The lower trailhead is at the Knight County Park boat ramp. When you turn into the parking lot, it’s to the left by a big signboard. You’ll walk on a trail that parallels the road for 0.4 mile, crossing the street a couple of times, until you reach the “old” trailhead. Don’t let all of the stairs psych you out. (Is it just me who weirdly hates stairs on a trail?) After 1.1 miles, you’ll reach the first viewpoint when the trail is suddenly in a wide open grassy headland with views of the Salmon River estuary and Cape Foulweather. From here, you’ll climb another 0.6 to a flat grassy area with a pole that used to have a sign, I assume, indicating the end point. Return as you came.

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