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Cascade Head among Best Hikes on West Coast




cascade-head2.jpg

Oregon Coast - The question of best hikes on the west coast can be an exercise in futility. There are simply too many to choose from. However, a personal favorite and one that I've been embarking on with the same excitement almost every summer for 25 years lies along the coast of Northern Oregon.

Situated less than 90 miles southwest of Portland, Cascade Head is a UNESCO biosphere reserve sitting aside the Siuslaw National Forest a few minutes north of Lincoln City and conveniently located off Coast Highway 101.

Hang a left on Three Rocks Road. Park and gear up at Knight County Park where the Salmon River meets the Pacific Ocean. At the northern end of the lot, the trailhead will lead you on your journey to lush rain forests, hilltop meadows and coastline views that will leave even the most seasoned explorers in awe.

One of the many treats to experience as you make your ascent is the ability to gaze down upon both herds of grazing elk and birds of prey scouring the landscape. This area is also home to an abundance of spectacular wildlowers and a rare butterfly. There's much to see at every turn.

Making your way toward the peak you will find yourself stopping in awe every few seconds to soak it all in. The last stretch to the top is a bit of an ankle twister as you make your way on a very narrow trail that the elk manage effortlessly. Keep an eye out for elk lying in the grass enjoying the views.

A perfect grassy area with killer views awaits as you take a well deserved rest and refuel break. Stellar views in all directions overwhelm the senses as you to take in the coastline, the Cascades, Devil's Lake, the Salmon River along with the wildlife and flora.

At this point you can retrace your steps back to your car or if you have what it takes press on through the rain forest and loop back to your car the long way. This adds several miles to your hike and more than once have found myself hitching a ride from very kind strangers when my legs could carry me no more.

Year after year, it's an enthusiastic return to the Oregon Coast and Cascade Head. This magical hike still retains the same allure as it did when much younger and stronger legs carried me up the hill. Cascade Head is truly among the Best Hikes on West Coast.

What To Know

* Bring good hiking shoes
(mud is common on some stretches)

* Bring plenty of water

* Bring lunch and snacks
(pack it out)

* Dress in Layers
(weather can change quickly)

* Cell phone reception
(surprisingly, it's been stellar)


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