Oregon’s Finest Hiking Spots: Ecola State Park
While there are tons of beautiful areas to discover and memorable vistas to enjoy along the Oregon Coast, not many live up to the beauty of Ecola State Park.
No visit to Cannon Beach is perfected without taking a walk along the windy trails of Oregon’s most blissful treks or taking the time to see exactly what beauty Ecola State Park offers.
Along with the eye candy, there are also plenty of hiking paths to enjoy within the park like California’s Finest Hiking Spots. Many of these hiking trails lead hikers to the most beautiful views in the area.
However, the nature surrounding you as you walk through the wooded areas may be just as captivating as the scenic views.
In this article, we outline everything you need to know about Ecola State Park, including some interesting facts you may have never known about the area, to help you become a true expert and make the most out of your visit. Ready your camping gear and prepare to explore Ecola State Park.
Explore Ecola State Park
Sitting dramatically on the very edge of Tillamook Head, this park swivels through old growth rainforest on the northern end of Cannon Beach, before finding its way to one of Oregon Coast’s most beloved views.
Here you can overlook the capes and a number of rock formations to the south.
Ecola State Park offers paved walking trails to help visitors check out the best panoramic views in the area, including the famously historic Tillamook Rock Lighthouse which is perched on an isolated rock in the Pacific.
Take a short drive to the other end of the park to find the pristine Indian Beach, which is popular among surfers. This area is also perfect for birdwatching and wildlife viewing. A herd of Roosevelt Elk is known to graze in meadows found above the beach and Bald Eagles are known to hunt in the nearby forests.
Ecola Point is also a popular place to visit in this area as the Ecola Point Trails treat visitors with perfect views of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and the rocky coastline of Oregon. While you can’t go wrong in terms of trails, a popular choice to explore is the 8-mile part of the OCT, or Oregon Coast Trail.
Along this trail, you’ll find coves, clifftop viewpoints and sights of the rainforest-covered cape – basically everything that creates the perfect hiking experience.
In short, Ecola State Park has it all. From picnic areas to hiking trails and vantage points for whale and bird watchers, there are tons of choices for you to simply enjoy the outdoors, whichever way you prefer.
You can get to the park from the northern end of Cannon Beach.
Starting from 5th street, continue north, following Ecola Park Road for about 1.5 miles until you see the fee station.
Once here, make a left to find yourself in the Ecola Point parking lot, or you could veer right and drive on for another 1.5 miles to get to Indian Beach.
Parking at Ecola State Park
12 month day-use parking permit
24 month day-use parking permit
You’ll need to get your hands on a day permit to park in Ecola Park.
These permits are sold at the Ecola Park fee station. Alternatively, you can purchase 24 month or annual permits online at the Oregon State Parks website.
A state park camping receipt can work as a day permit for every day that you’re registered at the camping ground.
Five-day and annual Coastal Passports are also allowed.
Keep in mind that parking at Indian Beach and Ecola Point is quite limited. During beautiful days on off-season, and almost every day from June until September, you’ll be waiting in long lines to park.
The road is narrow with no room to turn around so trailers and RVs are not recommended.
Worse comes to worse, you can also check out the parking lot at the Tillamook Head Trail just off Sunset Boulevard.
Hiking & History
The 8-mile section of the OCT is considered to be the backbone of Ecola State Park.
From the parking lot mentioned above, hikers and visitors can either head north for a mile and a half to Indian Beach or go south, following the OCT on a steep 1.25-mile descent to Crescent Beach.
From Indian Beach, the trail continues on northward over Tillamook Head for another 6 miles.
If you choose the Indian Beach route, you’ll also have the option of connecting to the Clatsop Loop Trail.
This trail begins at the info kiosk in the parking area, climbs to Hiker’s Camp and then loops back to where you started at the parking lot.
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Clatsop Loop Trail
If you’re thinking of taking on the Clatsop Loop Trail, we’ve compiled some more important information on the hike for you.
Clatsop Loop outlines the route used by Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery, which was led by Captain William Clark who visited the area of Cannon Beach in 1806 while searching for a beached whale that the Native Americans had told him of.
This is why Ecola State Park is part of the Lewis and Clark Nation and State Historical Park.
On this hike, you’ll be able to walk along the footsteps of Captain William Clark and his exploration party as they searched for the beached whale, hungry and exhausted in hopes to make it back to their campsite with whale blubber and usable oil.
While you hike along this historic trail, don’t miss the spur trail at Hikers’ Camp which takes you to the viewpoint that overlooks Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, also known as “Terrible Tilly,” as it sits offshore, welcoming the crashing waves.
Awesome Facts About Ecola State Park
Now that we’ve loaded you with an information dump on how to get around Ecola State Park, it’s time for more dumpage.
Before visiting new places, it’s always beneficial to learn a bit about what makes them special: why the lineups are worth the wait and what to look out for.
This enhances the overall experience while adding a bit more excitement to the days leading up to the excursion.
Here are 3 interesting facts we found about Ecola State Park:
1. It Holds an All-American Rainforest
If you’re looking for a true wilderness fix to tame your inner dino, Ecola State Park has you covered.
The forest in this area, along with many other forests along the Pacific Coast are actually temperate rainforests.
… Which is pretty cool.
If you didn’t know before, now you know: all you need to do to get to the nearest rainforest is jump into your car for a quick day trip to the coast.
2. There Have Been Cougar Sightings in the Area
Rainforests and cougars, can it get any wilder?
While sightings are rare, you may be able to catch glimpse of a cougar during your Ecola State Park exploration day.
While this may be terrifying to some, don’t worry, cougars don’t want to mess with you any more than you want to mess with them.
3. The Beach is Great for Shellfish Collecting
While this activity requires a shellfishing license at $17 for a 3-day pass, it’s worth it.
Also, with Oregon licensing, you don’t need an anglers license to accompany your activity.
If fishing isn’t your thing and you much prefer wildlife as it is, where it is, we have your back on that. And while simple beach shell collecting may not be as challenging as shellfish collecting, no matter what age you are, it’s still a very enjoyable activity.
Final Words on Ecola State Park
Ecola State Park is one of the finest hiking spots Oregon has to offer.
From its long stretching, pristine beaches to its lush rainforests and some of the best panoramic views in the area, Ecola State Park provides a truly unique experience to anyone wishing to get a nature-fix and plan the perfect day trip with your family or loved ones.
Hiking, whale watching, exploring and maybe even a cougar sighting: Ecola State Park has it all.