If you are looking for a good workout hike on the Oregon coast, the Tillamook Head trail just south of Seaside is a great choice! It spans between the Tillamook Head trail head, south of Seaside, and the Indian Beach trail head at the Ecola state park, north of Cannon Beach.
This article is about a 4 mile in and out hike from the Tillamook Head trail head. The Ecola state park is currently, as of July 2020, closed due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The length of the whole trail is 6.3 miles. But many people seem to enjoy hiking the 4 mile in and out from the Seaside-end of the trail.
If you are familiar with the Bells Mountain trail at Moulton Falls, near Yacolt, Washington, you will notice several similarities between these to trails. Both trails are traverse trails, about similar lengths. Both trails have a over a mile climb from respective trail heads (Tillamook Head and Moulton Falls).
The trail is not too flat, not too steep
This trail is not as steep and demanding as the Bells Mountain trail climb. The mile and three quarters climb is fairly steady, with switchbacks. Some people have even been taking shortcuts between the switchbacks. The trail is more rugged than the Bells Mountain trail, with uneven, rocky and narrow passages. There are also many larger and smaller trees crossing the trail. You would have to climb over or duck under the trees.
Higher up, in the rain-forestry setting, at least when I hiked it in the mid-morning, the trail was muddy, wet and slippery.
Most of the hike is in dense forest.
The 2-mile part of the trail was mostly in dense forest, with no exciting views. Once you reach the top, where the trail starts plateauing, there are ocean views. But it was too foggy on my hike, so I wasn’t able to see any of the ocean.
That brings me to another issue, same as I ran into when hiking the Saddle Mountain trail hike. These trail heads have limited parking. If you arrive early, you will find parking, but most likely any views will be obstructed by fog. If you arrive later in the day, the fog would have lifted, but it’s hard to find parking.
As I mentioned, I only hiked 2 miles in, and turned back. Not much views, but still good exercise, and being close to the nature. This was a Saturday morning in July. I met very few hikers on my way up, but on my hike down, the trail was much busier. I met one couple carrying their surf boards, and overnight gear, heading for Indian Beach, and then another couple heading on an overnight hike. Most people were doing same as me, hiking up the climb and then turning around, just like many people do on the Bells Mountain trail.
I have been RV camping in Seaside for many years, never thinking that there would be nearby mountain hiking trails. Last year I hiked the Saddle Mountain trail, east of Seaside. It is quite a scenic hike. Unfortunately, the trail is closed this summer. And now I hiked the Tillamook Head trail for the first time. I highly recommend both trails! Hopefully they will be fully opened soon.
I am hoping to hike the whole Tillamook Head trail someday.