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Parks of the Long Beach Peninsula: A mile-by-mile guide

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Cape Disappointment Light from interpretive center

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, as seen from the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.

From expansive ocean beaches to rugged coastal forests, the pristine estuary of Willapa Bay and the quiet coves of Cape Disappointment, the state parks of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula offer boundless opportunities for explorers across all seasons — including those looking to bundle up for a holiday trek.

This guide offers a mile-by-mile overview of the peninsula’s parks, highlighting several stops within the Washington State Park system. For ease of use, mileage begins in the charming town of Ilwaco, increasing as the guide moves north toward the tip of the peninsula at Leadbetter Point State Park.

Cape Disappointment boat

A small boat is seen from cliffs within Cape Disappointment State Park.

Cape Disappointment State Park — Mile 1

Before departing Ilwaco, stop by the well-curated Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and the town’s waterfront. Art and maritime history set the cultural and historical scene for the journey ahead. From the museum, travel west on North Head Road to enter the expansive Cape Disappointment State Park.

Within the park boundary, choices abound. Cape Disappointment is best thought of as several parks within one. For those seeking shorter hikes rich with scenery, the high cliffs of Bell’s View Overlook Trail offer expansive views. From the same starting point, hikers can also set out on a loop trail circling the high bluffs beside North Head Lighthouse.

Many park stops offer stunning views of the Pacific, including resident and migratory seabirds and the occasional gray whale. Wind down the road to find the clifftop Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, in view of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

Cranberry Oba State Park — Mile 6

Heading north via North Head and Willows roads, the park journey joins U.S. Highway 101 and 103 to bisect the towns of Seaview and Long Beach.

Follow Highway 103 north and make a left turn on Cranberry Road to reach the peninsula’s next state park. Part of Washington’s small network of Ocean Beach Access points, Cranberry Oba State Park is ideal for those seeking long walks in search of seaside treasures.

For visitors wishing to try their hand at driving along the shore, a four wheel drive is recommended, as is a deep understanding of local tides and sand. For the cranberries themselves, head a few miles east.

Swans at Loomis Lake

Swans grace the waters of Loomis Lake.

Loomis Lake State Park — Mile 9

The name of Loomis Lake State Park is a bit of a misnomer. While the lake stretches through the center of the peninsula heading north, its access point is further up the highway.

The draw of Loomis Lake State Park, however, is that of seclusion and solitude. After a short drive north on Highway 103, a left turn onto 184th Place brings travelers to a small parking area. Before departing on a well-maintained trail to the beach, visitors can make use of a few picnic areas.

Far less populated than the former stops, this state park offers the quintessential Northwest beach experience. Visitors may find themselves as the beach’s lone inhabitants as they watch the setting sun or let dogs frolic among the surf.

Eagle

A young bald eagle sits atop a hollow tree trunk. Look for eagles at Pacific Pines State Park.

Pacific Pines State Park — Mile 15

A short trek northward on Highway 103 brings visitors to the village of Ocean Park. A stop for coffee or a place to find a beach cottage, Ocean Park also features the quaint Pacific Pines State Park. Accessed by a left turn onto 274th Place, it’s similar in setup to Loomis Lake State Park.

Solitude and seclusion are again the theme — even summer visitors report having the beach to themselves. Its name comes from a forested patch of Pacific Ponderosa pine trees. Here, nature abounds, with eagles often soaring above.

Leadbetter Point State Park — Mile 22

With hundreds of species reported, the peninsula’s northernmost park is a birder’s paradise. Boasting more than 1,700 acres of natural area, Leadbetter Point State Park sits at the road’s end — literally.

Follow Highway 103 until its terminus at the park boundary. Several miles of trails crisscross the park and allow visitors access to windswept beaches and scenic Willapa Bay. Kayaking and hiking are popular recreational activities, though the park’s size and location mean that seclusion continues.

The Martha Jordan Birding Trail is a standout route. This accessible path brings visitors to Hinse Marsh, which serves as a wintering area for impressive Trumpeter Swans.

From March until September, visitors are encouraged to keep any eye out for what appear to be bouncing white cotton balls. Their true form, however, is that of the Snowy Plover chick, an endangered species of shorebird that reminds visitors to watch their step and stay within the marked trails.

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