The one thing I really enjoy about my current job is my schedule; I have Friday’s and Saturday’s off. Friday’s for me means running errands and typing up any other loose ends. If I’m really lucky, however, Friday’s for me means getting out on the hiking trail. In the summer, this was especially nice because this meant fewer crowds, even on the more popular trails. One trail I was able to cross off my personal to-do list was Neahkhanie Mountain, which can be found while en route to Cannon Beach.
Stats: 5.0 miles, out and back, Approx. 1450 elevation gain
Area: Between Manzanita & Cannon Beach
Trailhead: North Neahkhanie Mountain Trailhead
The summit of Neahkhanie Mountain can be accessed by taking either the Short Sand South Trailhead, which is an 8 mile lollipop loop, or the North Neahkhanie Mountain Trailhead. My boyfriend and I opted for the North Trailhead because it was easily accessible, was shorter distance-wise, and also required a little more elevation gain.
Once parked, you will cross the road to the start of the Oregon Coast Trail. The first section of the trail will consist of many sharp turning, elevation gaining switchbacks through meadows of salal. If you do this hike in the spring, these meadows are embellished with a variety of wildflowers including Coast Fawn Lilies, Candy Flower, Trailing Blackberry, and Columbia Windflower. As you climb the switchbacks, you are treated to views of the ocean and views of coastal cliffs at Devil’s Cauldron and Cape Falcon.
You will enter a forested area after reaching the top of the meadow and will shortly cross a small creek. The trail will then cross the north face of the mountain and continue to climb, leading you to the south side of the northern summit and into a woodland of moss-covered spruce. You will soon drop down into a saddle before you begin the final climb to the south summit. There will be a small switchback before you’ll finally come to a steep and rocky path to the summit. At the summit, you will be treated to views of Neahkahnie Beach, Manzanita and the coast all the way to the Nehalem Bay Mouth. After taking in the breathtaking views, simply return the way you came.
Driving Directions: (From Portland) Drive Highway 26 west for 68.7 miles from Beaverton (where Highway 217 merges with 26 westbound). At the western terminus of Highway 26, keep left for Highway 101 South, Cannon Beach, and Tillamook. After 0.4 miles, merge with Highway 101 South. Drive south past the exits for Cannon Beach 15.1 miles, passing the first three Oswald West State Park trailheads, to a gravel pullout on the right.