Oregon’s Magnificent, Memorable Cape Lookout
This unforgettable stop along the Oregon Coast is filled with hiking, fishing, and a sense of striking, rugged beauty. Cape Lookout, one of Oregon’s dramatic coastal points jutting into the vast and often stormy Pacific Ocean, is an intriguing, memorable stop for travelers along this exquisite stretch of coast.
Location of Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout is located on what is called the Three Capes Scenic Route. This route begins in Tillamook, Oregon, and includes Cape Meares to the north and Cape Kiwanda to the south.
Cape Lookout State Park is situated eleven miles west of the coastal town of Tillamook, Oregon, which straddles the curvaceous highway 101 running the length of the Washington and Oregon coastlines. Follow the signs for Netarts and Oceanside, and shortly you’ll see the signs for this park.
As a state park, it is naturally elegant, yet simple and unpretentious. It has 38 full hookup sites, 173 tent sites, 13 yurts, and 3 deluxe log cabins, along with 4 group tent camping areas and a hiker/biker camp. Open year-round, however, it offers an incredible opportunity to experience the violent Pacific storms that can batter the coast in the winter months.
The real beauty of Cape Lookout, however, is not the campground – the real beauty is the cape itself, filling the entire southern horizon with its towering, granite majesty. A short stroll down the beach puts one at its magnificent base. The cape is a generous source of protection in a southerly blow and a source of inspiration to aspiring artists. It serves also as a silent, peaceful place where memories are revived and stories composed.
Hiking at Cape Lookout
There are wonderful hiking trails here. Unless one is really in shape for hiking, it’s best to drive the short distance to the trailhead, for hiking from the park adds five miles to some hikes. Once at the trailhead, one can choose from three different routes. A popular walk is the 2.4 mile Cape Trail to the Cape Lookout Viewpoint.
This is a trail of easy to moderate difficulty, with positively postcard-perfect panoramic views along the way. One walks through a silent cathedral of towering spruce, pine, and fir trees. The trail terminates at the end of the cape. From there, looking north, one can see Tillamook Head, Cape Falcon, Cape Meares, and Three Arches rocks. Looking south one can see Cape Kiwanda, Haystack Rock, Cascade Head, and Cape Foulweather.
There’s also a historical marker on the trail designating the site of a 1943 military plane crash. And, during the peaks of the gray whale migration (March and again in December and January), one can get a prime view of these mammoth leviathans from here.
The South Trail goes 1.8 miles to Sand Lake, and the 2.3 mile North Trail heads back to the park.
For the less robust, within the confines of the park is a ¼ mile self-guided nature tour, along with a short loop trail along Jackson Creek.
Fishing at Cape Lookout
Anglers may like to bring their surf fishing rods, for this is an excellent beach for perch and other smaller species.
Indeed, this entire area is rife with rivers loaded with trout and steelhead. One can choose from the Trask, the Salmon, the Nestucca, the Little Nestucca, the Wilson, and the Nehalem rivers for fine fishing. Ocean fishing charter boats are available in Garibaldi, a short distance north of Tillamook.
An Excellent Getaway
This entire area is unique in its appeal. It’s rural and rather isolated, particularly in the offseason. No big cities… No movie theaters close by… Just you, the cape, a good pair of walking shoes, and a tolerance for some possible stormy weather.