Hiking on the Oregon Coast

Cascade Head Trail 09
Panorama from Cascade Head | Oregon | 1/500 @ f/11 and ISO 200 – 29mm focal length

My free weekend in the Pacific Northwest was kissed by an unusually warm spring sun, that brought record temperatures for this time of the year (we hit 70F today). Around 10am I left Portland for the 75 mile drive to the Oregon Coast near Lincoln City, arriving just after noon. The trail I selected for my Sunday hike was the Cascade Head trail. The trailhead is at a parking just three miles north from the intersection of OR18 with US 101, at the mouth of the Salmon River. For the photographs and some descriptions continue after the jump…

Cascade Head Trail 01
1/250 @ f/9 and ISO 200 – 61mm focal length

The year round open lower Nature Conservancy Trail is a moderate 4.2-mile hike up Cascade Head, gaining 1200 feet of elevation.  The trail initially crosses a couple of small streams on bridges, then enters a forest of large, gnarled spruce covered with moss and surrounded by big ferns, climbing steadily upwards. After 1.1 miles I exited the woods onto  the meadows with a breathtaking view across the Salmon River estuary. In the distance visible are Cape Foulweather and Lincoln City’s Devils Lake. Then the path steepened a lot and climbed to the upper viewpoint, with a splendid vista of the Oregon Coast and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. A great hike, with the views getting better as I gained altitude. But see yourself….

Cascade Head Trail 02
1/640 @ f/11 and ISO 200 – 41mm focal length
Cascade Head Trail 03
1/640 @ f/10 and ISO 200 – 41mm focal length
Cascade Head Trail 04
1/1250 @ f/10 and ISO 200 – 100mm focal length
Cascade Head Trail 05
1/400 @ f/8 and ISO 200 – 44mm focal length
Cascade Head Trail 06
1/1000 @ f/11 and ISO 200 – 35mm focal length
Cascade Head Trail 07
1/800 @ f/8 and ISO 200 – 100mm focal length
Cascade Head Trail 08
1/640 @ f/11 and ISO 200 – 23mm focal length

The vista from the upper viewpoint of the trail is spectacular. I just sat in the sun and enjoyed looking out over the Pacific Ocean. I even managed to spot some whales blowing steam, probably some resident Grey Whales living year round near Lincoln City and Depoe Bay, but they were too far off to photograph.

From up here departs also the upper trail on to Harts Cove, but it is only open from mid July to mid December, to protect rare wildlife, so I didn’t get to do it. But for sure a reason to return in summer, when the meadows high above the Pacific are ablaze with flowers.

Cascade Head Trail 10
iPhone 6s Panorama

Finally I descended once more through the fairylike Siuslaw National Forest.

Cascade Head Trail 11
1/80 @ f/9 and ISO 1000 – 20mm focal length
Cascade Head Trail 12
1/5250 @ f/5.6 and ISO 200 – 54mm focal length

For the hike up Cascade Head I brought my Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4 Pro Zoom. RAW conversion and post processing (mainly some de-hazing and contrast adjustments) was done in Lightroom Classic CC. I also used my iPhone 6s to take some panoramic shots.

All in all I was  3.5 hours on the trail, covering 5 miles and 2400 ft of altitude difference. But that included plenty of photo stops and a good amount of relaxing in the warm spring sun, taking in the splendid view.

Wish you all a great week!


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59 thoughts on “Hiking on the Oregon Coast

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  1. Stunning photos! I have been to the Oregon Coast however we haven’t hiked there yet. It is certainly on the bucket list. Thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks for your great comment! Yes, it was a truly memorable first feeling of spring that day! The Oregon coast is so beautiful. I get to go back in three weeks 😉 ! Marcus

      1. a very favorite place in the world for me. beautiful work and made me homesick! you are always welcome sir!

  2. Marcus these are beautiful images. I spent 3 months at the Sitka Center for the Arts and Ecology located within an easy walk from the base of the Cascade Head trail. I did not walk the uphill side of the trail but came in from the fire road that comes off U.S. 101. The fire road maybe closed at this time of the year. It was beautiful. My pictures were more hazy. Yours are stunning. Thank you for the memories. Here is the link to the Sitka Center https://www.sitkacenter.org

    1. Thanks, Tim, your words mean so much to me. Amazing you spent time at the Sitka Center, which I passed on my way (and thanks for the link allowing me to check it out). Indeed the fire road on top is open only from mid July to mid December. It was a splendid day, so it was easy to take some clear shots of the stunning scenery. I’m also content I spotted some whales. All in all a perfect Sunday outing! Marcus

  3. I always wanted to see Oregon Coast and never visited it.
    Marcus, these are breathtaking photos. You certainly had a fantastic time!!!
    I enjoyed so much your photographs!

  4. Wow Marcus!! The scenery is stunning. These photos definitely make me want to put the Oregon Coast on my bucket list!! -Amy

  5. Incredibly stunning photos as usual! Of course I love them even more because they are of the Pacific Northwest! That first shot is perfection! I just finished reading a book called Astoria by Peter Stark that you might enjoy. It tells the story of an early attempt to create an American empire on the Pacific coast! You’ll recognize a lot of the landscape and its a great story!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, this is so much appreciated! I will look up the book, and maybe have a chance to pick it up at Powell’s, thanks for the tip! Marcus

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Cate. You should really consider coming to Oregon, it is so beautiful. That’s what I will do as well, bringing my family over for a three week summer vacation in the Pacific Northwest.

      1. That will be SO much fun!!! I’ve only been out west once this September, and I’d love to see more of it! I know you and your family will have a great time this summer!

  6. STUNNING images, Marcus! You have a gift for capturing the beauty of this gorgeous region.

  7. Spectacular scenery Marcus, the coastline and bays are so beautiful. What a treat to enjoy such a warm day. It’s slightly warmer at home now but it’s also very rainy (think I prefer the cold, sunny days). Hopefully Spring is around the corner and it will be good when the clocks go forward. Marion

    1. Thanks, Marion, so much appreciated! I’m already enjoying the benefits of longer daylight, as the US already switched to summer time last weekend! I love it! Have a great Wednesday! Marcus

  8. Just the kind of terrain I would love to join. Even weather seems perfect for the hiking. Love the pano shot taken from your phone, Marcus!

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