With hiking shoes and backpacks, my friend and I headed down the shaded forest path. We were on the Cape Falcon Trail in Oswald West State Park.

The hike is about 2.5 miles one way for a roughly 5-mile round trip. The hike is relatively easy and enjoyable, though it gains in elevation, and it’s family friendly; we saw several parents and kids on the trail.

We arrived at 10 a.m. on a cool, overcast Saturday. Only three other cars were parked in the Cape Falcon parking lot, the northernmost lot in the park on U.S. Highway 101. The southernmost parking lot is closed until Dec. 31; contractors are working on a bridge. A popular day-use state park with one parking lot out of commission makes for plenty of midday parking hunters. At the end of our hike around 1 p.m., we were still emerging from the trees into the sunlight when an eager driver asked if we were leaving – an abrupt end to a lovely hike. Arrive early to guarantee a parking space.

The Cape Falcon Trail works its way up a ridge on the north side of Short Sand Creek. About a half-mile in, you come to a signed junction: The left leads down to Short Sand Beach; continue right along the Cape Falcon Trail.

The trail rises and falls, passing over Kerwin Creek. The breeze whispered through the trees, refreshing us as we gradually climbed. We paused occasionally to take in the wonders of the forest. My friend spotted some Sitka spruce trees with large, round tumors called burls. We also passed the upper tier of Blumenthal Falls, a small scenic waterfall; you can see the lower tier at Short Sand Beach.

Not long after, we came to an unsigned trail junction. The left path leads through a hedge of salal. The berry bushes are tall, and the path looked recently bushwhacked (you wouldn’t be able to get through otherwise). Birds twittered and sang; we even saw a squirrel. The path splits again, with both options leading to viewpoints. We look the left one, passed beneath trees, then climbed out onto a rock for snack time, enjoying a magnificent view: ocean, rock and beach, and Manzanita to the south bathing in the sun.

After a break, we backtracked out of the salal jungle to the junction and took the other trail (which continues all the way to Arch Cape, if you’re feeling adventurous). We went far enough to find another viewpoint: more breathtaking cliffs of Cape Falcon.

Pick up next week’s Coast Weekend to read about another great hike in Oswald West State Park: Devil’s Cauldron.

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