Cape Lookout South Trail (Beach Switchback)

The summers are beautiful in Oregon so Christine, our two dogs, and I took advantage this past Saturday and went hiking on the coast at the Cape Lookout South Trail (map). The trails in the Cape Lookout State Park are dog-friendly and provide a few different options. There is a North trail and South trail. The South trail also has a switchback that goes from the trailhead, right off the highway, down to the ocean. That’s the route we chose and had a blast!

When you start down the South trail the switchback branches off pretty early. Overall it was just over 2 miles one-way from the trailhead to the beach and took us just under an hour. We spent another hour on the beach so, overall, spent about 4 hours there.

The trail is all downhill to the beach from the parking lot and all uphill on the way back with ~835 feet of elevation gain. The trail is fairly flat but does have a lot of tree roots and was narrow and overgrown in parts. I can imagine when the weather is wetter it can be quite muddy and slick as well. We also encountered a fallen tree but were able to get over it pretty easily.

The hike starts off nice and wooded. 1.2 miles in you will encounter a bench, which is a rough halfway mark. As you progress there are peek-a-boo views of the ocean and you can hear the tide, making it very relaxing.

Once you get to the bottom the beach is pretty secluded. There is a campground nearby but we only say 5 or 6 other people and there was plenty of room to let the dogs run around. We got lucky that the tide was out, giving us more space as well. From the beach, you can look back up at the ridge you just came down. Don’t get too smug though. After enjoy your time at the beach, you must hike back up the ridge.

Overall, this was a fun hike that we were able to do in a half-day leaving from Portland. It is kid and dog-friendly but rated moderate and probably not a good fit for folks with mobility issues due to the tree roots, mud and incline on the way back up.