The Oregon Coast Experience

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Three Capes Loop

The Three Capes Loop, a gorgeous 35-mile byway off U.S. 101, winds along the coast between Tillamook and Pacific City, passing three distinctive headlands—Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. Bayocean Road heading west from Tillamook passes what was the thriving resort town of Bay Ocean, which washed into the sea more than 30 years ago. A road still crosses the levy to Bayocean, and along the beach on the other side you can find the remnants of an old hotel to the north. The panoramic views from the north end of the peninsula are worth the walk. A warm and windless road returns hikers on the bayside.

What You'll See

Cape Meares State Park. Cape Meares State Park is on the northern tip of the Three Capes Loop. The restored Cape Meares Lighthouse, built in 1890 and open to the public May to September, provides a sweeping view over the cliff to the caves and sealion rookery on the rocks below. A many-trunked Sitka spruce known as the Octopus Tree grows near the lighthouse parking lot. Three Capes Loop, 10 miles west of Tillamook, Pacific City, OR, 97141. 800/551–6949. www.oregonstateparks.org. Free. Park daily dawn–dusk. Lighthouse Apr.–Oct., daily 11–4.

Cape Lookout State Park. Located south of the beach towns of Oceanside and Netarts, this park includes a fairly easy 2-mile trail—marked on the highway as "wildlife viewing area"—that leads through giant spruces, western red cedars, and hemlocks, and ends with views of Cascade Head to the south and Cape Meares to the north. Wildflowers, more than 150 species of birds, and migrating whales passing by in early April make this trail a favorite with nature lovers. The park has a picnic area overlooking the sea and a year-round campground. Three Capes Loop, 8 miles south of Cape Meares, Oceanside, OR, 97141. 800/551–6949. www.oregonstateparks.org. Day use $5. Daily dawn–dusk.

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. Huge waves pound the jagged sandstone cliffs and caves here, and the much-photographed, 235-foot-high Haystack Rock juts out of the Pacific Ocean to the south. Surfers ride some of the longest waves on the coast, hang gliders soar above the shore, and beachcombers explore tidal pools and take in unparalleled ocean views. Three Capes Loop, 15 miles south of Cape Lookout, Pacific City, OR, 97135. 800/551–6949. www.oregonstateparks.org. Free. Daily sunrise–sunset.

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