Tillamook Head National Recreation Trail

MODERATE 103 reviews
#2 of 5 trails in

Tillamook Head National Recreation Trail is a 11.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Cannon Beach, Oregon that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
11.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,942 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

beach

forest

views

wildlife

muddy

Hike with the Lewis and Clark Expedition to Tillamook Head via Ecola State Park and discover the explorers' farthest western point of discovery. The wide, graveled trail starts on the right-hand side of the Indian Beach parking turnaround. After 100 yards keep left at a fork and climb, steeply at times, through old-growth spruce and alder woods. After 1.6 miles you'll reach an X-shaped trail crossing beside three open-sided shelters and a primitive camping area for backpackers. The shelters and tent sites are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis, but there is no drinking water nearby. Turn left at the trail junction for 0.2 mile to find a 6-room concrete bunker that housed a radar installation in World War II. Just beyond is a cliff-edge viewpoint at the tip of Tillamook Head, breathtakingly high above a rugged rock beach. A mile to sea is Tillamook Rock, a bleak island with a lighthouse that operated from 1881 to 1957. Nicknamed "Terrible Tilly," the light was repeatedly overswept by winter storms that dashed water, rocks and fish into the lantern room 150 feet above normal sea level. The island was finally bought by funeral entrepreneurs who bring in urns of cremated remains by helicopter.

hiking
12 days ago

I want to emphasize that you should start from the Indian Beach parking lot and picnic area, not the lot the navigation leads to. The Ecola Point Trail is closed, and I wouldn’t recommend pushing through passed the “trail closed” sign like I did.

Hiked this in early August and the trail was still very muddy. The trail itself was not that hard (would rate moderate only due to length) but the mud and fallen trees on the trail force you to parkour around a bit, making it mildly more strenuous.

The trail itself showcased some beautiful rainforest areas and views of the ocean. Very peaceful. I would not recommend doing the 12mi there-and-back. The walk back was pretty soul-sucking and exhausting. Leave a car in Seaside if you can.

hiking
13 days ago

Very muddy! Would consider this a more than moderate hike and very slick. Need proper hiking gear as well

15 days ago

This is a wonderful hike... make sure you have a car on the other side.

hiking
28 days ago

This is a fabulous Trail. In fact, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery actually took this trail from their winter quarters to Ecola to trade with the Native Americans.

I have noticed that many people have said the Tillamook Head Trail is closed. That is not correct. The trail is open. I think people are confusing the Tillamook Head Trail with the Ecola to Indian Beach Trail. The Ecola to Indian Beach Trail is still closed about half way in, but to be crystal clear, the entire Tillamook Head Trail is open from Indian Beach to Seaside -- and there is a parking lot at Indian Beach (in addition to the Ecola parking lot).

One-way, this is about a 5.5 mile hike with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. If you do not want to do the 11 Mile in-and-out hike, you can leave a car in Seaside and park one at the Indian Beach parking lot (which is in Ecola State Park).

I have seen people do this hike in everything from flip-flops to serious hiking boots. I would definitely recommend hiking boots, especially if it has rained recently. But many people choose to do this hike in tennis shoes and do fine. We hiked it again last week and it was mostly dry. I would also suggest bringing some insect repellent.

This is a wonderful hike with some great ocean views and lots of old growth trees. I am in decent hiking shape and would classify this trail as moderate.

1 month ago

Love the views

hiking
2 months ago

We hiked Seaside to Indian Beach today. No trail closures, but some areas you have to get creative to get through.

hiking
2 months ago

Could someone give better description about the trail being closed 1 mile from the start? Are you starting from Seaside end? Is it impassible? This is asked on 06-02-2018.

3 months ago

The trail is closed (5/12/18) at about a mile in. We're pretty bummed and will hopefully try again in the future!

3 months ago

This is a great forested trail with a few views of the ocean. Can get muddy and slick with rain but remains one of my all time favorite hikes.

camping
3 months ago

Fun little hike, rain was coming down hard and made the trails muddy, but still a worthwhile trail, and the camping shelters kept us warm and dry. Don't miss the WWII bunkers!

5 months ago

who's doing a 12 mi loop?? drop a car in Ecola and rally at pelican then get your car in seaside later.

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome hike! There are plenty of stops along the way to look out at the ocean. Way less muddy than we thought it’d be considering the rain this past month. If you can time your hike to be at the beach during low tide it’s really nice to look in the tide pools. Lots of starfish and other creatures.

hiking
6 months ago

Trail is washed out about a mile in or so but it has some amazing views up and down the coast.

backpacking
6 months ago

Trail full of of great views. It also in heavy need of maintenance. Jaydon and Trevor OCT

hiking
6 months ago

Wonderful day for a nice hike, trail was a little rough in various spots. But to be honest you have to expect this while hiking along the Oregon Coast in January.

hiking
6 months ago

We did parts of this trail over two days, December 26 and 27, 2017. On day one, we started at the Seaside trail head, not knowing what to expect. It was awesome. We were not in hiking boots, only tennis, but we still managed to navigate the places with lots of mud and fallen trees. We were dressed for all kinds of weather, but stayed very warm in the canopy. Lots of switchbacks, no real views, but cool trees and vegetation. We hit the top and came back down. On day two, we started from Indian beach. We selected the long upward road to the right of the restrooms. We got a great workout: steady incline! The logging cabins and bunker were awesome; we continued another mile under the canopy and mud and then returned; going back down closer to the ocean. We plan to do the entire 6 miles in mid March knowing what to expect.

7 months ago

Couldn’t complete the trail. There was a mudslide about a mile in.

hiking
8 months ago

One of the many beautiful trails on the Oregon Coast. Try to go during low tides and go walk on the beach to the waterfalls.

hiking
10 months ago

Good exercise, but not much to look at.

11 months ago

Bucklin' Down 2017 completed this loop. We spent the night at the primitive backpackers camp in the Puddle Cabin, aka the yurt. The views along the trail were magnificent, featuring deep woods, huge old trees and the one and only Oregon coastline. I personally found it to be an almost...out of body experience. Loved it all.

backpacking
11 months ago

My wife and I just tackled this trail for one night (end of August). It was hands down one of the most tiring trails I have ever done. We bit off a little more than we could chew because we did not expect it to be so hilly.

To hike this trail you have to park on the street in either Seaside or in the town next to Cannon Beach. There is no overnight parking for backpackers.

Between Ecola Point and Indian Beach the trail signs read closed. There has been a wash out near Indian Beach. The trail is completely destroyed. We hiked it anyways. People have walked through it all enough that you can methodically wind your way down to Indian Beach.

The climb North from Indian Beach to the Hikers camp is daunting. You climb 800 feet in elevation in just a little over a mile. The hikers campsite has $5 wood bundles for purchase and a little outhouse to take a poo in. It smells awful. If your looking to getaway from people and enjoy primitive camping this is NOT the trail for you. Up until sunset people we let walking through to see the lighthouse overlook. There are lots of people on the trail, even in the middle of the week.

The views are spectacular. Absolutely breathtaking.

We heard seals but could not see them.

It's fun to go from woods to beach.

Indian Beach is filled with surfers who are catching waves just off the Northern Bay rocks.

Hope this was helpful.

11 months ago

Great even in the fog :) part of the trail is closed due to slides, but you can get around it using the Ecola park road.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

This trail was significantly harder than we were anticipating. It is very steep in places with loose rocks and muddy patches. I fell multiple times and I'm not usually that clumsy (although I am very out of shape). Because the trail was so difficult for me, I had a very hard time enjoying the beauty around me. There were some breaks in the trees that gave a splendid view of the ocean. Ended up just stopping at Indian Beach and not continuing on to Canon Beach. Only one person in our large party of hikers completed the trail. Apparently, the last leg of the trail wasn't well-maintained. I'd love to try it again when I'm in better shape, but I just wasn't physically up to the task.

hiking
Saturday, August 05, 2017

hiking
Friday, July 21, 2017

I hiked this last year in July, but was slacking on the review. A very very gorgeous trail! Great ocean views, lighthouse and beaches. We extended the hike by going from Seaside all the way to Cannon Beach on various trails because could not get enough of the views. Many great beaches along the way... and actually... with enough time and food you could keep heading south down the coastline! Why not?!? There's a landslide area and some tree fall but nothing that can't be passed easily with the seasoned hiker. Adds to the adventure. Mossy, green and gorgeous.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Great! All the trails in Escola connect and so I did 10 miles worth and loved it! Some mud and fallen trees to climb over- but in my option that only adds to the adventure!

hiking
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I really enjoyed this trail, a little more challenging than I was expecting. I really enjoyed the rugged trails, climbing over trees and all the obstacles along the way. A few notes, the map has you starting at Ecola parking lot at a paved path. The written directions start at the Indian Beach parking lot. Also a small part of the path connecting Ecola and Indian parking lots is closed due to a mud slide. However I easily found my way across the slide to the other path.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Went on a rainy summer day and it was gorgeous! It was foggy so I felt like I was in an enchanted forest. I loved that the trail was not easy, but not too hard. It was also very, very muddy but it definitely made it feel like this trail was an adventure.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Utterly amazing, what a great way to spend the day! :)

hiking
Monday, December 28, 2015

This trail is quite a walk (from Seaside Oregon all the way across the mountain side to Canon Beach) but well worth it! I've walked this trail twice and love it. The first quarter of the hike is pretty steep and difficult but once you get to the top and down the other side it gets easier. I would recommend wearing waterproof hiking boots though, it gets very muddy in some spots. And wear layers!

Great trail!

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