6 Must-Visit State Parks on the Oregon Coast

6 Must-Visit State Parks on the Oregon Coast

6 Must-Visit State Parks on the Oregon Coast

8 Jul 2022

The state parks along the coast are some of the best places to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. There are many different activities to enjoy in each park, from hiking and camping to fishing and picnicking.

The Oregon Coast is home to many different species of plants and animals. The coastal forests are full of Douglas fir, redwood, cedar, and hemlock trees. The beaches are home to sea lions, seals, otters, and seabirds. In the ocean, you can find whales, dolphins, and sharks.

There are dozens of state parks on the Oregon Coast. Some of the most popular include Ecola State Park, Oswald West State Park, Cape Lookout State Park, and Harris Beach State Park. Each park has its own unique features, so be sure to explore them all! Here’s our top 6!

1. Oswald West State Park

Near Seaside, OR – See our Collection of Seaside Vacation Rentals >

Stretched over four miles along the Oregon coast, situated between Manzanita and Arch Cape, Oregon, you will find the first of our top 6 state parks on the Oregon coast – Oswald West State Park. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Portland and 10 miles south of Cannon Beach.

This wilderness is dense with lush forest, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and transcendent panoramas of the Pacific Ocean, making it a destination for the likes of beachgoers, surfers, hikers, mountain bikers, naturalists, and families from all over the world.

Things to do in Oswald West

When it comes to activities, Oswald West is not lacking. Here are just a couple suggestions we have:

  • Visit Short Sand Beach
  • Take a hike to Cape Falcon Overlook
  • Go surfing or watch surfers at Smuggler Cove
  • Take a hike on the many trails
  • Go fishing
  • Go picnicking
  • Go beachcombing
  • Go bird or whale watching
  • Check out the viewpoints around Neahkahnie mountain

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Hiking Trails in Oswald West State Park

The hiking that can be done in and around Oswald West is very noteworthy – especially if that’s what you’re into. When traversing some of these trails, the air will feel still, as if you’ve found a little space outside of time – ancient and new all that once. These are great for the whole family or those that want to enjoy the sights and sounds rather than putting in the trek work. Don’t worry; if you’re into tougher hikes, it has those, too. Here are a couple of our recommended hiking trails.

Cape Falcon Trail

  • Length: 4.6 miles
  • Estimated duration: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Check out reviews here >

Necarney Creek and Cedar Crossing Loop

  • Length: 0.7 miles
  • Estimated duration: 20 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy (Good for young kids)
  • Check out reviews here >

Neahkahnie Mountain (from the North)

  • Length: 9.6 miles
  • Estimated duration: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Check out the reviews here >

2. Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area

Near Newport, OR – See Our Collection of Newport Vacation Rentals >

This state park gets its name by its most fascinating feature: the Devil’s Punchbowl. Once a sea cave, the Devil’s Punchbowl is a rock formation that looks somewhat like a bowl, as the name suggests. The bowl is surrounded by cliffs that are popular with rock climbers, and there are hiking trails that offer stunning views of the area.

Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area is a great place to explore whether you’re looking to hike, swim, fish, or just enjoy the scenery. The area is also rich in history, and the visitor center offers a great way to learn more about the park and its fascinating features.

During storms, the restless ocean pummels a huge punch bowl-shaped rock formation with a deafening crash. The surf churns, foams, and swirls as it combines two violent cocktails. The collapse of the ceiling of two sea caves may have created the punch bowl, which was then molded by wave activity. This is an excellent picnic spot with many tables, grills, and a playground. There is also an amphitheater for interpretive programs. The Visitor Center has displays on the natural and cultural history of the area.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Parking is $10 per car. Dogs are not allowed on trails or in the Devil’s Punchbowl.

The best time to visit the Devil’s Punchbowl is in the late spring or early summer when the weather is warm and the crowds are not too large. However, the park is open year-round, so there is always something to see no matter when you visit.

Things to do around Devil’s Punchbowl

Sightseeing isn’t the only thing you can do at this state park. Here are some ideas:

  • Explore the “bowl”
  • Explore the tide pools
  • Surfing
  • Beachcombing
  • Whale Watching
  • Hiking
  • Have a picnic

Hiking Trails in Devil’s Punchbowl

Devil’s Punchbowl Loop Trail

  • Length: 1.1 miles
  • Estimated duration: 37 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Check out reviews here >

3. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Near Yachats, OR – See Our Collection of Yachats Vacation Rentals >

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a 2,700-acre coastal habitat reserve in Oregon that was designated for its exceptional natural features. This lush and varied temperate forest may be experienced via a 26-mile network of paths.

The Cape Perpetua headland, at 801 feet above the Pacific Ocean, is the highest vantage point accessible by car on the Oregon Coast. From this lofty perch, you can take in views of the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve and the wild and rocky beach where visitors can watch as the ocean’s waves crash against the shore.

Cape Perpetua has been inhabited by humans for at least 6,000 years, and it preserves remnants of its long history. Archaeological sites provide indications of Alsea Native American culture and lifestyle, who referred to the region as Halaqaik. When British explorer James Cook saw the headland in 1778, he gave it its name for Saint Perpetua.

Things to do at Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua has a lot of fun things to do. Here are a few:

  • Check out Thor’s Well
  • See Spouting Horn at Hook’s Chasm
  • Explore the tide pools
  • Explore Cape Cove
  • Beachcombing
  • Check out Devil’s Churn during low tide (Doing this during high tide is dangerous!)
  • Go hiking

Hiking Trails around Cape Perpetua

Captain Cook Trail and Thor’s Well

  • Length: 0.6 miles
  • Estimated duration: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Check out reviews here >

Saint Perpetua Trail

  • Length: 2.7 miles
  • Estimated duration: 1 hour & 39 mins
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Check out reviews here >

Cook’s Ridge and Gwynn Creek Loop Trail

  • Length: 6.4 miles
  • Estimated duration: 3 hours and 9 mins
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Check out the reviews here >

4. Hug Point State Recreation Site

Near Seaside, OR – See Our Collection of Seaside, Oregon Vacation Rentals >

Hug Point State Recreation Site is one of the best state parks on the Oregon Coast you can check out when you’re in the neighborhood of Cannon Beach. It offers easy access to the beach, a look into the interesting history of the area and offers loads of scenery to take in.

The park is home to a variety of plant and animal life, as well as some interesting geological features. Visitors can enjoy hiking, picnicking, beachcombing, and exploring all that the park has to offer.

The historical significance of the site makes it a popular destination for those interested in Oregon history. Before Highway 101 was built, Hug Point State Park got its name in the late 1800s. The only method to get from place to place along this stretch of coast was by sea. As a result, the pioneers and their stagecoaches waited for low tide and hugged the rocks in order to bypass the point – hence the name “Hug Point”!

Hug Point State Recreation Site is a great place to spend a day or two exploring all that Oregon has to offer. The beautiful scenery, interesting history, and variety of activities make it a perfect destination for anyone looking for a little adventure!

Things to do at Hug Point

  • Hit the beach
  • Check out the sea cave along the beach
  • Check out the waterfall
  • Go beachcombing
  • Have a picnic

5. Bob Straub State Park

Pacific City, OR – See Our Collection of Pacific City Vacation Rentals >

Bob Straub State Park is a loved destination for fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. Bikes, OHVs, and camping is not allowed.

In the 1960s, this beautiful stretch of coastline was on the verge of being built over. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that Highway 101 goes inland from Neskowin to Tillamook, so motorists don’t see the ocean for about 30 miles. In the 1960s, in order to make the highway more picturesque, it was decided to move it closer to the beach – right up the middle of Nestucca Spit. Bob Straub, formerly of Oregon and later governor, was a frequent visitor to the region. He strenuously opposed the highway plan. Straub served as secretary of State while actively opposing the relocation of the highway. According to reports, he wrote hundreds of letters and memorandums, carried a signature petition with him everywhere he went, and organized protests and other demonstrations.

In addition to being being lined with beautiful, sandy beach, it is well known for its 50 lbs Chinook salmon, deposited in the bay by the Nestucca River. Surfperch, flounder, smelt and crab can also be caught from the shore. The ocean fishing here is some of the best on the Oregon Coast.

Things to do at Bob Straub State Park

  • Picnicking
  • Hit the beach
  • Horseback riding and trails
  • Hiking
  • Beachcombing
  • Wildlife watching and spotting

Hiking Trails in Bob Straub State Park

Marsh, Bay, and River Trails Loop

  • Length: 4.9 miles
  • Estimated duration: 1 hour and 34 mins
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Check out reviews here >

Beach and Marsh Trail Loop

  • Length: 4.7 Miles
  • Estimated duration: 1 hour and 26 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Check out reviews here >

Mike Miller Education Park

Lincoln City, OR – See Our Collection of Lincoln City Vacation Rentals >

The Mike Miller Educational Park is a 45-acre plot with several miniature eco-systems. Park brochures are available at the trailhead offering an informative and educational guide of this diverse and unique natural preserve. 

Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, and Coastal Pine trees make this a unique of the Pacific Northwest. This park’s main draw is its well-maintained woodland nature walk. The trail features bridges, lookout platforms, and benches where you can sit and listen to bird songs, observe tiny creatures, and appreciate native coastal vegetation in all its splendor.

At the trailhead, there are bike racks as well as car parking. The Mike Miller loop is about one mile long and takes 45-60 minutes to walk. It connects to the City of Newport’s Wilder Twin Park via the Wilder Trail.

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