A woman rests at the top of Cape Falcon.

The North Coast is home to an ample number of fantastic hiking trails to explore.

During the coronavirus pandemic, local trails have maintained a steady popularity among local residents — myself included. Rain or shine, these local trails have been an outlet to connect with nature and get some needed exercise away from home.


A sparrow rests in Oswald West State Park.

On a recent winter day, after a week of working from home, I ventured to Oswald West State Park to explore a trail new to me: Cape Falcon Trailhead.

After a scenic drive down U.S. Highway 101, I pulled off of the highway at a small parking lot. A few groups of people, all wearing masks and sturdy hiking shoes, walked to and from a handful of trailheads connected to the park.

The trail was quiet as I started heading over. Throughout the hike, I saw a few groups of people — everyone made as much space for each other to pass as we traversed the trail. Most of the trail is wide enough for several people to stand a few feet apart but the trail is narrow toward the start of the trailhead and near Cape Falcon.


Trees lining the top of Cape Falcon.

The trail itself is short, coming in at 4.6 miles roundtrip. Heading toward Cape Falcon, the trail follows a winding path through hundreds of trees and a handful of small creeks.

Although I visited the trail on a sunny day, the path was covered in mud in several spots. At a handful of points, the trail was slightly flooded with rainwater left over from the day before. Getting through these muddy trail sections was doable but at the end of the hike, my pants and hiking shoes were covered in mud.


Waves crash along the shore in Oswald West State Park.

About half a mile into the hike, there is an option to either continue following the trail to Cape Falcon or to head to Short Sand Beach, which is a popular spot for surfing and picnicking. The beach is also reachable by driving a few minutes past the Cape Falcon Trailhead parking lot, heading toward Manzanita.

Wary of early winter sunsets, I opted to continue forward on the main Cape Falcon trail. The remainder of the hike featured great views of the forest. Once I was close to Cape Falcon, the sounds of the Pacific Ocean’s endless waves, along with the chirping of numerous birds began to fill the air.

The last few minutes of hiking before reaching Cape Falcon featured a mostly-dry trail along with some overgrowth of plants, which narrowed some parts of the trail. This section wasn’t difficult to navigate but did require some thoughtful twisting and turning as I continued hiking.


A view from the top of Cape Falcon.

Once at Cape Falcon, I found awe-worthy views of Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain, Manzanita and the Pacific Ocean. Cape Falcon itself is beautiful as well — while there, I walked along a handful of short trails to catch different glimpses of the coast and the forest I had just hiked through.


A couple of acorns hang from a tree’s branches in Cape Falcon.

I spent a few minutes bird watching and wave watching before heading back along the trail and heading home, where I spent the rest of the day daydreaming of where to hike next.


Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain, photographed from Cape Falcon.

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