Ecola State Park

Coastline leading to Indian Beach in far distance

It was our second, and final, full day in Cannon Beach. The previous day we had hiked up Saddle Mountain. It was a good hike with an expansive view, but not really outstanding. All the clearcuts we could see certainly detracted from the view. But I always like to get to the top of a mountain and Sandy was patient and went along.

Today she wanted to hike along the coast. Just north of Cannon Beach is Tilamook Head, a rocky headland which separates Cannon Beach from the town of Seaside, about ten miles to the north. Most of the headland is in Ecola State Park and there is a trail that follows the coast most the way. It's part of the Oregon Coast Trail, which is envisioned as a way to hike the 400 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. As of 2016, there are still about 50 miles of gaps between the various sections. That wouldn't be a problem for us as we weren't planning to go quite that far.

On the trail to Indian Beach

When we woke up it was mostly cloudy, but the forecast called for clearing weather in the afternoon. That meant we could take our time in the morning and have a leisurely breakfast again, something that Sandy always likes. When we were done the clouds still hadn't cleared so we decided to be patient. We took the short drive to Seaside (made longer by a ten minute construction delay in each direction) and spent an hour cruising around downtown. I was still hoping that I would find a good Oregon Coast tshirt (spoiler alert - I didn't).

While Cannon Beach is primarily for tourists, Seaside is more of a real town. Besides the hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops there were tire shops and furniture stores and other ordinary businesses. We even saw one or two homeless people. People actually live in Seaside.

Sandy did find some nice banners at kite store (the coast is a great place to fly kites). We saw Doogers, a seafood restaurant that we had eaten at during one of our trips many years ago. I remember that I had one of their logo tshirts for a long time. The Dooger's that we ate at was in Cannon Beach but that's long gone. More on that later.

Sea stacks off of Ecola State Park

We got back to Cannon Beach right around noon and according to plan, the skies had mostly cleared by then. Before starting our hike we stopped and had a light lunch at Crepe Neptune. The crepes were good and gave us energy for hiking.

I thought that we might be able to start our hike right from town, but it turned out we had to drive around a small bay and up an access road into the park. It took less than ten minutes. We parked at Ecola Point, where we had a beautiful view to the south of the town of Cannon Beach, the beach itself, and Haystack Rock. Directly to the west, the view of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, over a mile offshore, was framed by trees. After taking pictures, we grabbed our packs for the hike to Indian Beach. It was an easy hike, only about three miles round trip and 350 of net elevation gain on the return, although there was plenty of up and down the entire hike.

Sea anemonies in tide pools at Indian Beach

The hike was mainly through forest but would often come out at viewpoints on the top of the cliffs along the shore. As predicted, the sky was bright blue and the temperature was just right for hiking. There were a lot of ups and downs, the trail was rarely level, until it eventually descended to Indian Beach where there was a parking lot hidden in the trees. The park road continued past Ecola Point and ended here and a number of people had driven rather than walked to the beach. But it was a huge beach and there were relatively few people. We walked all the way to the other end where there were a lot of rocks that sheltered a series of tide pools. We found lots of crabs and clams and sea anemonies. Very cool. We took our time returning to the trail and then walking back to Ecola Point. Although it was short this was a spectacular hike.

Sandy at Indian Beach

That evening we had dinner at Pelican Brewing. It was at the end of town in the building that had been Dooger's years ago when we visited before. The food was good. Sandy said it was the best clam chowder of the trip. So we ended on a high note. Mostly. I still didn't find a tshirt that I liked. Hard to believe that they didn't have anything good at a brew pub. I didn't get a single tshirt on this trip.

Inspite of that, it was still a good trip. Next day we did the long drive to Moscow, Idaho for Sandy's on campus meetings.