New Year’s Day: Cape Meares


A New Year, another 365-day chunk to plan out for adventures, sight seeing, and all around good times. My friend, AJ and I rang in New Year’s Eve with an amazing day at Mt. Hood Meadows, but for the first day of 2012, we wanted a different scene from the mountain.

Since AJ moved to Oregon, he had only been to the coast a handful of times, so it seemed a great venue to start off the year. With the help of our trusty resource, Portland Hikers, we found Cape Lookout, which seemed to offer both a hike perfect for slow meadering and a beautiful cliffside view over the ocean. So off we went in pursuit of this new overlook and counting Subarus along the way (have you ever noticed how many Subarus there are in the Portland area? I know they’re the official state car of Colorado, but Oregon has got to be a close runner up.)

An hour and a half from Portland (and 42 Subarus) later, we arrived at a small strip of beach supposedly in the general vicinity of Cape Lookout. Instead of fighting with GPS and trying to receive proper reception for my antiquated 3G iPhone, we decided a beach walk would be a good way to start our beach “hike”. It’s likely that most people were nursing a hangover from the night before, because there were only a few couples with dogs and a young family enjoying the clear sky and blustery winds. The receding tide, some rocks and shells, a Red Baron kite and a log cabin caught “our” eyes, and AJ had his Cannon ready at hand.

Shortly thereafter, we decided to backtrack toward an historic marker a few miles back. Instead of the predetermined Cape Lookout, we rolled with our rebel selves and followed signage for Cape Meares. Our plans for a hike rapidly changed to a “sight seeing” venture, but was well worth the trip. Upon entering the parking lot, we saw two lookouts peering over cliffs, a path to the lighthouse and a few hiking trails just past the picnic tables. This is a great stop for visitors and friends who enjoy the sights without the exercise, but for those interested in a small amount of walking, the lighthouse is a whopping .2 miles from the parking lot (come on, Grandma can do this one!), offers a beautiful view of the ocean, and, if you arrive at the beginning of March, you may even be lucky enough to spot a grey whale migrating north.

Before ending your Cape Meares excursion, make sure to follow the signs next to the picnic area up to the Octopus Tree. Legend has it that the Native Americans crafted this tree into a ceremonial site to hold sacred objects, including canoes. Remarkably, the 50-foot base does not have one single trunk, but rather at least four separate, merging trunks. Please take note that while this tree is incredible, and most will want to photograph themselves next to its base, there’s a fence for a reason: please stay out of the sacred circle.

Just opposite the tree is a not-to-miss lookout over crashing waves and the shoreline. If you’re up for adding more hiking to your leisurely trip, make your way back toward the tree, then head right. We did not continue past the next lookout spot, but it appears to be at least a couple miles of trail hugging the cliffs.

Warning: there is no guard rail at this point, so hike at your own risk.


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