Oregon's Coastal Beauty


Oregon is fast becoming one of my favorite US destinations for outdoor fun.  We had been there a few years ago to do some hiking around the waterfalls near Portland, but I still had a great desire to see the coast.  Photos of it reminded me of the Great Ocean Road in Australia, which I loved. We only had a day to see it as a family, as my husband had a conference in Portland with an extra day for "sightseeing". Though my son Omar and I spent absolutely every day outdoors doing hiking, seeing the sturgeon at Bonneville Fish Hatchery, enjoying views of Mt. Hood from Lost Lake, and visiting  Timberline Lodge, he was at the conference center.  You should plan on at least 3 days to do things around Portland, and if you can get the time, 2 more days on the coast.
Enormous sturgeon in ponds at the hatchery

Stunning beauty reflected in Lost Lake

We rented a car, and did a circle drive to get the full experience, which involved using the scenic route 6 through Tillamook State Forest to Tillamook, then driving up the coast to Ecola State Park and returning on 26 to Portland. This is about 200 miles, and takes just over 4 hours without stops.  You really need an entire day so you can get out and see the beaches along the way. Click on the Tillamook link for more ideas about what you can see once you're on the coast.


Our first stop was at Tillamook, where we visited the Blue Heron Cheese Factory.  Tillamook Cheese Factory is also there just up the road, but it was really busy and crowded.  We liked the Blue Heron because it had an outdoor fun area, and a petting/feeding zoo, which my son loved. 
Feeding some of the farm animals with feed bought inside the store
Of course, Cannon Beach is the destination that receives the most attention, but there are many other places to stop. You might remember the famous haystack rock seen at the end of the movie, Goonies, which was filmed there. We stopped about every 20 minutes to take photos and enjoy the scenery. Hug Point was one of the prettiest places, with a long beach and rock formations typical of the area.  We had to watch the tide though because some of the beach becomes obstructed by the rocks when the water levels rise, which can leave you stranded.
Fishermen's paradise. We saw some huge salmon being landed

Rocks are typical along the entire coast

With people in the photo, you can see just how big the rocks are

Climb inside some sandstone caves at Hug Point

Hug Point hiking can leave you stranded at high tide
We stopped in the town of Cannon Beach for a coffee, some play time and chocolate.  There's a cute cafe called Chocolate Cafe. Everything there was delicious, but they are well known for the hot chocolate. Directly across from it is a small playground, and if you need restrooms, they are in a public building at the intersection nearby.
It smells heavenly to chocolate lovers

Omar found some other kids to play with here
Ecola State Park was our final destination, because from here you get the best views of Cannon Beach, but there are also hiking trails through scented pine forests and a sandy beach where kids can bury themselves. You will need to pay to enter or have a parks sticker, but we had trouble getting the machine to work. No attendants were on duty in October, so we just drove in. It was a blustery day, but fun nonetheless. The only people in the water were surfers. In summer, I'm sure it would be a different story. 
A sign showing the sea life on the coast

The beach on a blustery day as seen from the top at Ecola Park
For a complete map of all the beaches on the coast, visit the Oregon State Parks and Recreation website.  If you had more time, you could choose to do a much longer piece of the coast and stay at a hotel along the way. It's a beautiful place!

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