The day-use area restroom and dump station are temporarily closed. Washburne is located on the east side of Highway 101 with a buffer of native plants between you and the highway. The campsites are spacious. There are several trails of varying difficulty leading from the campsites to the beach, wildlife viewing areas, and second-growth forests. A walking trail leads you under the highway to a five-mile sandy beach and a day-use area, where you'll find space to watch whales, hunt agates, beachcomb, and picnic. Another trail connects you to the Heceta Head trail, which you can use to reach the historic Heceta Head lighthouse (check the Heceta Head Lighthouse web page for information on tours). In the campground at night, you can hear the pounding surf. There is a creek running through the campground, and elk have been known to wander through. Wild rhododendrons bloom in spring.
I made this hike a few weeks ago, Took the Hobbit trail to the beach, walked the beach to Washburne, then crossed the highway preparing to take the Valley trail back but found a sign telling me that portion was closed. So, I did the only thing I thought I could do and hiked the mile and a half back to my car along the 101. A truck tried to change lanes, almost hit me, and knocked me down and embankment where I twisted my ankle.
I went back yesterday and hiked the 1/4 mile to the barricade from the Hobbit trail head parking area.... and the "barricade" is simply a little sign hung over a fully functional bridge. After watching hikers and volunteers cross it with no issue, I did too. Afterward, I spoke with a Ranger who told me the hillside is slowly eroding so they closed the bridge as a precautionary measure.
Word to the wise: If you find yourself in the same position, TAKE THE VALLEY TRAIL ANYWAY! Crossing a six foot long bridge that may collapse in a year or two is far less dangerous than taking your life in your hands to take the 101 back!
P.S. The hike is peaceful and beautiful :)
Judie F. on Hobbit Beach - China Creek Loop Tra...
We just completed this hike, starting on the trail head at the Heceta Lighthouse and continuing on the Hobbitt Trail to the beach. This is a beautiful ~6 mile hike out and back through a mature rain forest with towering trees and beautiful ferns and foliage. It is mostly an easy hike but with the rise in elevation, it's a decent excursion through lush scenery and great ocean views. The Hobbit trail portion is a short 1/2 mile jaunt to the lovely, uncrowded sand beach. This hike is a gem if your looking for a half day excursion with a mild to moderate (depending on your hiking experience) hike, I highly recommend these great trails in the Heceta Head and Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park area.
I started the trail at the lighthouse, behind the lighthouse actually, then all the way down to Hobbit Beach, and back, which is about six miles of beautiful scenery. The trail was wet and muddy, to be expected in January, but that didn't bother me as the scenery was gorgeous! And not busy at all!
We started from the Washburn St Pk campground trailhead. Which is located exactly at mp 176 of hwy 101. Roughly mid way between Cape Perpetua and the Sea Lion caves. The day use parking area is actually on the west side of hwy 101. The trail head that starts from the campground on the east side of the hwy has no parking (that we saw) if you are not in a campsite. We first went on out to Heceta Head Lighthouse then back tracked to the "Hobbit trail" which leads down to the beach. Then 2 miles back to the parking lot via the beach. It was a nice hike of about 6 miles total. The "Hobbit" portion as far as I can tell was all of about 100 ft. But it is all on good trails and through mossy forests with a lot of good view points along the way. Adding the Heceta Head portion has a moderate hill climb but nothing terribly strenuous. Other than that the rest of the hike is a piece of cake.
The trail really does have a unique "hobbit" feel to it, particularly near the beach. We went on a rather mild day and the beach was not crowded in the least. We only did the Hobbit beach trail from the highway down. I may do it again, although there were a lot of flies and, perhaps because the tide was up, there weren't many ocean treasures to be found along the beach.
The trailhead for the 1/2 mile trail from Highway 101 to Hobbit Beach is moderately easy. The scenery along the hike is indeed hobbit-like and there are many little places for children to explore during the trek. Spend some time on the pristine Beach; it is exquisite and quite private.