In the Pacific Northwest it seems that the clouds of grey and the sturdy swells of the Pacific Ocean are unwavering in the winter. But in Ecola State Park, the grey and gloom adds to the charm of a typical Oregon day hike.
Ecola State Park is stretched along nine miles of coastline, wrapping around Tillamook Head. The park is nestled between Seaside and Cannon Beach. With eight miles of the Oregon Coast Trail weaving through Ecola to a two-and-a-half mile loop hike called Clatsop Loop Trail, this state park has something to offer for varying experience levels.
The day use fee is $5, which includes parking and park access from dawn until dusk.
With a proper rain jacket and a good pair of waterproof hiking boots you can do almost anything the park has to offer. The park offers a plethora of diverse outdoor recreational activities including picnicking, surfing, observing wildlife, hiking and tidepooling. These activities are easily doable year-round.
The park is known for Ecola Point and Indian Beach. Both have stunning viewpoints and opportunities for the perfect picnic any time of year.
As you enter the park, play your favorite song and blast it through the speakers in the car because the views only get more stunning as the winding road cuts through a Sitka spruce forest. The greens and browns of the forest when freshly rained upon are breathtaking.
As the trees get shorter and the road opens up to a grassy picturesque field overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it’s hard not to believe such beauty and grace can crash down so hard onto the rocks below.
With views of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse known as “Terrible Tilly” and rocky shores, it is almost as if you’ve stepped into a real life painting where you can feel the wind and a salty mist swirling all around, dampening everything in sight.
The grey and navy blue hues of an Oregon Coast winter are dark and ominous as the waves crash on the sharp rock below on Ecola Point.
There’s no doubting why Indian Beach is also a huge attraction in Ecola. Picnic benches in the parking lot overlook the beach. A small trail leads down to the beach, which is full of black rocks instead of sand. This is where the waves prominently crash down. The beach is quiet during the winter, leaving visitors to wonder why there aren’t more people out exploring the beautiful landscape.
Clatsop Loop Trail
From the parking lot of Indian Beach, Clatsop Loop Trail also offers a scenic two-and-a-half mile loop trail. The trail is also a part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
This loop hike passes through Hikers’ Camp, and loops back to the parking lot through a section of the Oregon Coast Trail. The trail then loops back to the Indian Beach parking lot with breathtaking views along the way.
Captain William Clark and a small exploration walked this path in 1806, searching for a whale for the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The sunlight is scarce for a typical coastal winter day. But when she peeks her head through the clouds and makes the rocks, water and mist sparkle, making for a magical and almost shimmering view of the Pacific Ocean.
Unexpected sneaker waves or large waves are always something to be aware of at the coast. Watch the incoming tides when exploring tidepools, caves and on the beaches.
Stay on the designated trails and do not take shortcuts. A life is not worth the perfect photo.
Mother Nature in all her glory should not be trifled with. The crashing of the waves, the salty air brushing the faces of her onlookers. She is meant to be admired and cherished as she is a force to be reckoned with, and Ecola State Park is the perfect place to bask in her beauty and glory from afar.