YACHATS — While there are any number of hikes to stunning vista points all along the Oregon coast, there are few places where hiking in the coastal forest is easier to access and more spectacular than the 26 miles of trails at the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.
The Cape Perpetua Visitor Center, located three miles south of Yachats, provides a large parking lot and a start-off point for all levels of hikers — the Cape Cove, Cook Ridge and Oregon Coast trailheads are easily accessible from here.
Captain Cook Trail is a paved, .8-mile loop from the visitor center that goes down to the tidepools. A popular spot to watch the waves, visitors should take care on the rocks and be aware of sneaker waves.
The Cape Cove Trail goes .3 miles to the beach where you can connect with the Trail of the Restless Waters, another paved .4 loop from Devil’s Churn.
The Giant Spruce Trail is a shady, short, .2-mile, trail east through the forest along the creek. At the end of this short hike is a magnificent, 500-year-old Sitka Spruce tree.
All these are easy, popular trails that most can comfortably manage, but know your limits and be sure to pack food and water. Cape Perpetua is a popular attraction, and visitors should be prepared to meet others on the trails and at viewpoints.
The Cooks Ridge and Gwynn Creek Loop Trail is a moderate to difficult six-mile loop starting out at the upper parking lot of the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center through the Discovery Loop, Cook Ridge, Gwynn Creek and Oregon Coast trails. Away from the visitor center, there are fewer hikers. In a very short time, one is deep in the forest, far from crowds.
For those looking for an even longer, more challenging trek, the Cummins Creek Loop Trail will take you 9 miles through an old growth forest. There’s a vantage point along this route with a distant ocean view that is tremendous. Farther south, the Cummins Ridge Trail is a lesser-used, 6.2 mile (each way) trail through dense forest wilderness. This is way off the beaten path.
Ambitious hikers not wanting to make a day of it can take on the St. Perpetua Trail. Only 2.8 miles round trip from the visitor center, the trail climbs 800 feet to the Cape Perpetua Headland, a steep, challenging trail to the highest viewpoint accessible by car on the coast.
So you don’t have to make the arduous climb — you can drive to the top, where you will find what many believe to be the best view on the Oregon coast. This is also a busy trail that can be congested. From here you can see 70 miles of coastline on a clear day and as far as 37 miles out to sea. Whales can be spotted from here moving past or feeding below.
The Whispering Spruce Trail is a wide, easy 2-mile loop from the Cape Perpetua day-use parking lot along the cape through the woods. The stone structure, the West Shelter, provides a photo opportunity, shade and shelter, as well as a place to enjoy the spectacular views.
The Amanda Trail rises up then down from the Whispering Spruce Trail. This is a challenging, steep trail with thick roots and large, uneven steps. This trail leads to the Amanda statue, where interpretive signs tell the story of the people native to the area.
Hikers can find supplies, restaurants and lodging in the nearby towns of Yachats and Waldport. Visitors should verify all services in advance and pack out their trash.