- Level: Easy (Beginner Level: Doable)
- Length: 5 miles
- Elevation: 300 ft. gain
- Type: out and back
- Open: all year
- Permit: n/a
- Drive time from Portland: 1h45m
- Google map: “Oswald West State Park”
This was one of the first coast trails I’ve done and I think of it so fondly. Not surprising because it’s absolutely gorgeous and so easy to get to. Five miles is a good amount of distance, but the climb isn’t too crazy, so I sometimes add this one onto others, like nearby Neahkahnie Mountain. You can also just make a day of hanging out here because Short Sands Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on this stretch of coast and there’s also another short, 1.2-mile loop hike from the trailhead if you want to tack it on.
I listed the Beginner Level at Doable, because I truly think it is, but I want to be completely clear: this one is muddy year round and there are a lot of rooty parts that require careful footing. The abundant salal closes in on the trail in multiple parts, but it’s not quite machete-worthy. Also, there was a tree down when I was last there was a pain in the ass to get around, but not dangerous. It’s probably gone by now.
From the trailhead:
The trail starts to the left of the restroom and heads under a highway 101, following Short Sands Creek. Keep right at all junctions to a picnic area just before the beach. Follow the Cape Falcon pointer to the right to a trail through the woods. After about 2.3 miles, you’ll reach a trail junction to the Cape Falcon viewpoint, turn left. You’ll walk through some salal strangling the trail like an overgrown hedge maze and shortly reach the a viewpoint. There are a bunch of short spur trails here for different views. Return the way you came.
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