On the Trail

The Oregon Coast Trail is a long-distance hiking route along the Pacific coast. It follows the coast of Oregon from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border south of Brookings. The trail through Cape Perpetua Scenic Area totals 6 miles. (Photos by Ferris Haukom/Siuslaw News)

A review of the Oregon Coast Trail near Cape Perpetua

April 29, 2022 — Oregon’s coastline stretches 363 miles. Alongside it runs the Oregon Coast Trail.

According to the Oregon Coast Trail Foundation, the trail “traces the entirety of what is arguably the most scenic coastline in the United States. The opportunities for adventure are substantial, and there is a little something for everyone.”

Many hikers break up the trail into 10 separate hikes, which can reach 35-45 miles each.

The segment of the Oregon Coast Trail that begins at the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a component of the Yachats-to-Heceta Head leg of the coast-long trail.

The trail can be accessed from the Visitor Center through the Captain Cook Trail, which overlooks the Spouting Horn and Cooks Chasm, but first splits into the Oregon Coast Trail.

After the paved portion of the Captain Cook Trail, the hike is generally flat, although it begins with a slight incline as it weaves through the old growth Sitka Spruce forests, with the ocean intermittently visible through the foliage. It passes through denser clusters of vines and bushes — similar to the enclosed segments of the nearby Hobbit Trail — before reaching a small bridge which crosses Gwynn Creek.

After this point, there is a view across the Highway 101 to the beach near Neptune State Park while the Oregon Coast Trail continues for another 0.3 miles. This portion of the trail has more of an incline than the first and the ground becomes covered with a blanket of moss. Wildflowers, including trillium, English daisies, sorrel and evergreen violets, and mushrooms, including turkey tail and leafy brain, are also more common in this area.

The trail ends at Forest Service Road 1050. Across the road, Cummins’ Creek is visible, although it is not accessible.

While this is the end of the trail within Cape Perpetua, the Oregon Coast Trail merges with Highway 101 for 7.2 miles before continuing again at Rocky Creek Campground.

Prior to the segment detailed, a leg of the trail begins at Smelt Sands State Recreation Site. This stretch primarily follows the Highway 101 before joining Amanda’s Trail upon entering Cape Perpetua. Amanda’s Trail, a memorial to the forced relocation of Native Americans to the Siletz Reservation, passes an amphitheater and statue of Amanda De Cuys, a blind Coos woman from which the trail gets its name.

This stretch leads to the St. Perpetua Trail, which climbs to an elevation of 700 feet and provides one of the most extraordinary views of the Oregon Coast before descending to the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center and the trailhead of the Captain Cook Trail.

The parking fee at Cape Perpetua is $5 per vehicle per day, however use of a valid recreation pass is also accepted. Dogs are allowed on the trail, however they must be kept on a leash that is less than 6 feet long.

Learn more online at www.oregoncoasttrail.org, www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/ and www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recarea/?recid=42265.