Oregon’s breathtaking coast will leave you in shock and awe with it’s fierce and calming beauty. Black sandstone cliffs constantly ravaged by crashing waves, or look off in the distance to sea lions and whales. The Oregon coast has everything anyone could ever want and need without being greedy. Recently, we found ourselves in Portland, picking a friend up from the airport. We didn’t want to take I-5 back to Eugene because it is lifeless and overall boring. With only three days, we wanted to show off all that Oregon and its coastal range had to offer.
We did the trip with an overnight stop in Waldport.
However, this could be an early morning all day trip if you only have one day to explore.
1.) Portland –> Munson Creek Falls, Beaver
Your first stop is 80 miles west of Portland, through the Tillamook National Forest. Munson Creek Falls is a 319-foot waterfall. The hike to see the falls is short and easy hike at .6-miles out-and-back. Munson Creek Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon’s Coastal Range. Munson Creek is a State Natural Site but there are no fees to use this area.
Total Time:45 minutes (including time to drive in from 101)
Directions: From Portland take 26 W to 6 W.
Take 6 W until 101.
LEFT on SOUTH on 101. 5 miles
LEFT onto Munson Creek Road.
Follow Munson Creek Road 3 miles
2.) Munson Creek Falls –> Cape Lookout State Park, Tillamook
Cape Lookout State Park is where you can finally see Oregon’s amazing coastline in all it’s glory. Cape Lookout State Park offers camping and many other trails, but we recommend the five mile out-and-back trek to Cape Lookout. This offers spectacular views and is the best spot on the Oregon coast to watch whales. Due to the length of the hike, there won’t be much time to relax at the viewpoint. But the views are worth it.
Total Time: Three hours. Enjoy yourself.
From Munson Creek Falls,
101 SOUTH LEFT for 4 miles.
RIGHT onto Sandlake Road
follow signs for Cape Lookout Trailhead parking.
3.) Cape Lookout State Park –> Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area, Otter Rock
When we pulled into Cape Foulweather and looked at the Devil’s Punchbowl from above we understood how it got it’s name. Super high winds and hair being thrown everywhere. We drove down and looked at the collapsed sea cave up close. It was low-tide so the waters weren’t raging but it was still interesting to see. We saw whales from this lookout. You can walk down to a beach if you desire.
Total Time: 30 minutes – 1 hour
101 SOUTH From Cape Lookout, turn RIGHT to follow Sandlake Road 41 miles.
RIGHT on Otter Crest Loop and continue to the lookout. After soaking in the views of Devil’s Punchbowl from high up, head back out to 101 and continue SOUTH for two miles. Turn RIGHT onto Otter Crest Loop again and head to the viewpoint. You can also take Otter Crest Loop from Cape Foulweather to Devil’s Punchbowl.
Tip:This is the longest portion of the drive clocking in at 1 hour and 15 minutes. 51 miles.
Lincoln City is a good place to stop for food with a decent amount of choices. We were not as lucky as to choose a solid option on this day. We stopped at a Mexican Restaurant, that also might have been a gift shop, and they were apparently out of everything that constitutes as a good Mexican meal. Starving, we settled for our bean and rice veggie-less veggie burritos.
4.) Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area –> Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport
Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. There are several short trails at the BLM operated site. We did the short climb to the top of Salal Hill, just behind the lighthouse and this was our view. This was our last stop of the first day and the sky was just starting to show hints of the sun setting.
There is also a trail leading to a beach and a cove.
Total Time: 30 minutes – two hours
From Devil’s Punchbowl RIGHT 101 SOUTH for 4.6 miles.
RIGHT Lighthouse Drive.
Note: There is a $7 fee for passenger vehicles to enter.
Tip: Waldport, in between Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Cape Perpetua State Park, is a great place to stop if you are taking two days to complete the drive, like we did.
5.) Yaquina Head Lighthouse –> Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, Yachats
Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a place I am very excited to go back and do some more exploring. It is also possible to camp at Cape Perpetua. While we visited on this trip, we did the Captain Cooke Trail at .5 miles, the Cape Cove Trail at .7 miles and the Restless Waters Trail at .4 miles. The Restless Waters is a short loop trail to the Devil’s Churn so it’s a good add-on. The Cape Cove Trail begins at the Visitor’s Center. After the tunnel under 101, veer left from the Cape Cove Trail to follow the Captain Cooke Loop. Once back at the Cape Cove Trail, continue straight to get to the Restless Waters Trail. The combination of these three trails will let you see the Devil’s Churn, Sprouting Horn, Cooke’s Chasm and Thor’s Well.
Total Time: One hour to a half day
Directions: From Yaquina Head Lighthouse, turn RIGHT to go SOUTH on 101. After 29.5 miles, the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center will be on the LEFT.
Note: There is a $5 day-use fee.
6.) Cape Perpetua Scenic Area –> Heceta Head Lighthouse, Florence
Heceta Head Lighthouse boasts the strongest light on the Oregon Coast. There is a beach and small inlet to explore. A short up-hill hike will take you to the lighthouse and opens up to magnificent scenery. We had an excellent tour from one of the volunteers, too bad that don’t let you walk up to the top. The lighthouse is now maintained by the Forest Service. There is a longer, 4.3 mile hike to the top of Heceta Head as well.
Total Time: One hour – half day
Directions: From Cape Perpetua, Heceta Head Lighthouse US 101 SOUTH.
The entrance to the lighthouse and park will be on your RIGHT.
Tip: Florence, the town shortly after Heceta Head Lighthouse, is a great place to stop for some food with a wide selection of restaurants. We stopped at The Firehouse Restaurant & Lounge which was a cozy joint with homestyle cooking.
7.) Heceta Head Lighthouse –> Sweet Creek Falls, Mapleton
Sweet Creek Falls is an easy, 2.2 mile out-and-back trail that follows along a cascading river. You will go by ten waterfalls before reaching Sweet Creek Falls at the end. Make sure to climb to the top viewing area for a completely different view of the falls.
Total Time: One hour
Directions: From Heceta Head Lighthouse, turn RIGHT onto US 101 SOUTH. 12 miles.
Turn LEFT onto US-126 E towards Eugene.
Continue on 126-E for 14 miles.
Turn RIGHT to stay on 126-E.
There is a bridge immediately after this turn.
After this bridge, turn RIGHT onto Sweet Creek Road.
Continue for 10 miles to the Homestead Trailhead, located on the RIGHT.
Sweet Creek Falls is the last stop. After this, continue on 126-E towards Eugene. It’s about an hour away!
Crossroads to Campfires (Christian Anderson and Kelly Paplaczyk) is not responsible for injuries and/or other incidents that occur while participating in the activities described. Trail information, driving directions and information about public lands is subject to change. Use common sense and make informed decisions about hiking, driving or camping anywhere.