Ecola State Park: Things to know and Places to go

ecola state park

Ecola State Park, on the edge of Tillamook Head, is a must-see for any visitor to Cannon Beach. Located near Cannon Beach’s north end is the Ecola Park Road, which winds through old-growth rainforest before arriving at one of the Oregon Coast’s most iconic views. Views of the world-famous Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, perched on a lone rock in the Pacific Ocean, can be seen from elevated vistas along paved walking pathways. Indian Beach, a popular surfing destination on the other side of the park, is only a few minutes away. Ecola State Park has miles of hiking routes, picnic areas, and viewing points to see birds and whales. Look for Roosevelt Elk herds grazing in meadows and Bald Eagles soaring above you as you go around the park.

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Image credits: The Mandagies

Ecola State Park is a popular hiking and tourism destination with a rich history. The park’s two most popular attractions are Ecola Point and Indian Beach, which are both located on the coast. Viewpoints and picnic tables are accessible at each spot, allowing visitors to take advantage of the spectacular scenery. On the trails of Ecola Point, you’ll see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, rocky coasts, and ocean vistas, among other things. On the park’s hiking trails, you’ll see stunning seascapes, little bays, and the lush rainforest-covered cape.

Hiking Trails

OCT, which is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, passes through the park for roughly eight miles. Visitors can follow the OCT south for 1.25 miles to Crescent Beach or north for 1.5 miles to Indian Beach. After it, the trail continues north for another six miles, passing through Tillamook Head. The Clatsop Loop Trail, which is 2.5 miles long, is also accessible from Indian Beach.

Clatsop Loop Trail begins at the Indian Beach parking lot’s information kiosk, ascends to Hikers’ Camp, and then swings back down to the parking lot along the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT), passing stunning views of the coastline along the way. To reach the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse viewpoint, hikers can take a short extension trail from OCT Hikers’ Camp. Located near present-day Cannon Beach, the Clatsop Loop follows along the footsteps of a Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition led by Captain William Clark, which visited the area in 1806 in search of a beached whale reported by local Native Americans.

Tillamook Head Trail

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Image credits: That Oregon Life

If you want a longer hike, there is enough to choose from in the park. The Tillamook Head Track, a six-mile part of the Oregon Coast Trail, was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1972. It is a popular hiking and biking trail. The following is Captain Clark’s description of the view south from Tillamook Head:

“It is the grandest view and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless ocean.”

Indian Beach Trail

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Image credits: Eye Hike

You can’t climb from Ecola Point to Indian Point since a section of the Indian Beach Trail washed out in 2017. For spectacular views far above Indian Beach’s southern end, trek part of the way.

A bright yellow sign near the trailhead warns hikers to be on the lookout for cougars. Even while cougar sightings have increased in recent years, none were reported on this day, at least to our knowledge! The well-worn track is easy to follow, albeit a bit steep at times, but the rewards are well worth it. Several vistas along this portion of the route offer superb views of Ecola Tip and the sea stacks that extend into the sea close off the point.

Clatsop Loop Trail

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Image credits: Outdoor Project

It is a mountainous two-and-a-half-mile loop that begins at the Indian Beach parking lot and travels through a Sitka spruce forest to Hikers’ Camp before returning along the Oregon Coast Trail to the starting point. The trail is a part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

There are various spots along the road where you may stop and take in the spectacular views of the coastline. We didn’t have enough time to finish this project during our visit, but that’s okay. We had already exhausted ourselves from our day of exploration and discovery.

Best Places to go in Ecola State Park

Indian Point

The Indian Point parking lot is a short drive from Ecola Point along the beach park road. Visitors come to observe the rock stacks and access Indian Beach, a popular site. Here, like at Ecola Point, surfers and beachcombers have access to the beach.

Vault toilets, a modern spin on the old pit toilet or outhouse style, are also available. It’s worth the trek if you want to see the shoreline from a different angle or investigate the tide pools. Make sure to check the tide tables before heading to the beach if you plan ongoing.

Ecola Point 

Image credits: State Parks Oregon

Because of its attractions and proximity to the park’s entrance, Ecola Point appears to draw the greatest number of tourists. You can rent picnic tables and a shelter for groups of 50 or less, except from July to September. Aside from the park’s only contemporary public facilities, the shelter draws a lot of attention during the busy summer months.

In order to accommodate this demand, it is only accessible on a first-come, first-served basis during this time period. You are also welcome to spread up a picnic blanket on the grassy areas and eat there.

Cannon Beach’s rock stacks, which include the gigantic Haystack Rock formation, may be seen from a distance from Ecola Point, which overlooks Crescent Beach and is a photographer’s dream location for long-distance shots. Our vacation destination was Cannon Beach, but seeing these structures from afar gave them a new perspective.

People travel vast distances to capture photographs like this one of Cannon Coastal, Oregon’s most scenic coastal community. Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge is home to beautiful off-shore sea stacks that can be found all along its shoreline. The common murre, pigeon guillemot, black oystercatcher, and even the tufted puffin use them as safe nesting grounds. During the spring breeding season, California and Steller sea lions, as well as harbor seals, use these little rocky islets to give birth.

“Terrible Tilly”

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Image credits: Offbeat Oregon

The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, which is located a little more than a mile off-shore, can be seen from the vantage point. Terrible Tilly has had an eventful existence from the moment construction began in 1881 until it was declared closed for good in 1957, a period that spans more than a hundred years. It had survived decades of storms and was hammered by the sea before it was destroyed by one of the greatest storms on record in 1934, one of the worst storms on record.

When the lighthouse was abandoned because it was always unsafe and expensive to maintain, the lighthouse and the rock on which it was built became a haven for seabirds who used it as a breeding ground. Although it is privately owned, the lighthouse is located within the National Wildlife Refuge of the Oregon Islands, which is a national historic landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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