Monday, March 16, 2015

Cascade Head

My day at the beach had been productive so far.  I'd caught excellent morning light at Cape Kiwanda, and discovered a new favorite beach.  After an early lunch in Pacific City, I headed further south for part two of this coastal adventure - exploration of a unique headland that was on my "must hike" list.

A multitude of trailhead signs

A windswept, grassy headland just north of Lincoln City, Cascade Head is one of a handful of locations where the Cascde Head Catchfly and the threatened Oregon Silverspot Butterfly are found.  Because of this ecological rarity, the Nature Conservancy maintains this area as an experimental forest and nature preserve.  It's a designated UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Breaking out of the woods

What drew me to visit were several glowing descriptions of gorgeous wildflower summit meadows, as well as dramatic ocean views.  Although several trails cross this 270-acre site, many are closed during winter and spring months to protect the endangered flora and fauna.  So today my path of choice was accessed from the headland's southern side.

The ocean in sight!

The actual trailhead for this hike was beside a narrow gravel road, where parking is no longer allowed.  Visitors must park at a nearby boat ramp, and follow a new, well-made trail along this road about half a mile.  My foot, still a bit sore from this morning's deep sand trek, wasn't super happy about the road walk.  But I soldiered on anyway, figuring it would loosen up once I got going.

Leaving the forest behind

At the old trailhead, things went vertical.  A check of my hiking book confirmed I was in for a climb - 1100 feet in 1.7 miles.  Realizing the elevation gain, I hoped my foot was up for the challenge.

Lovely wide-open views

The first part of the trail wasn't too exciting.  An uphill slog through a boring forest, it didn't take long before I was sweating bullets and pulling off my long sleeve layer.  In my backpack were three heavy camera lenses, that I now regretted carrying.  More than once I asked myself if this was going to be worth it.

The Salmon River Estuary

A sunny February Sunday brings out people, and there was no shortage of company on this trail.  I met lots of parties heading down, and pretty much everyone passed me on the way up.  I was surprised by the number of dogs I saw (at least six) despite the numerous signs, both at the trailhead and several places along the way, specifically prohibiting dogs.

Lower viewpoint

After nearly a mile of slogging, the forest suddenly opened up, and I was treated to my first view of the blue Pacific Ocean.  And boy, was it dramatic!  Water as far as the eye could see. 

Crashing waves below

The path continued, cutting a deep track through a grassy plain.  The higher it climbed, the better the views got.  Southward, I began to see Roads End Beach, the Salmon River Estuary, and the town of Lincoln City.  Before me, the land appeared to culminate in a sharp, green point.

More ocean waves

I took a water and snack break overlooking the green headland.  Although a faint user trail meandered along it's apex, I was sure it wasn't an approved path.  (Although I was tempted to go check it out!)  Views to the north included a cute little cove, surrounded by steep cliffs.  Despite what looked to be amazing views, I kept my distance from the edge.

Peek-a-boo sea view

A father and son joined my grassy perch.  We had a pleasant conversation, while watching the waves crash at the base of the steep cliffs, far below.  A lovely spot for a break!

The higher I climb, the better the scenery

But the summit was calling, so I packed up my snacks and continued to slog up Cascade Head's grassy slopes.  With sunny skies and no shade, it didn't take much before temps heated up.  I was climbing in a t-shirt, sweating February!

Looking back down on the lower viewpoint

By now, my foot was beginning to throb.  My body, out of shape after three months of no exercise, was also protesting the uphill climb.  I briefly considered turning around.  After all, I still had to get myself back down this thing.  I didn't want to damage my still-healing right foot, and the views were pretty good already.  Was there anything to gain by going all the way to the top? 

The full panorama

But.....I like summits.  Once I've started on an uphill path, I hate to admit defeat by turning around short of my goal.  So I ignored my body's complaints and kept going. 

And, in the end I was glad I did.  Finally atop the summit, resting in the grass, I relished the wonderful coast panorama I'd worked so hard for.

I can see for miles

Views were jaw-dropping!  The entire coastline south spread out before my eyes.  A large sandy beach at the Salmon River Estuary's mouth was front and center.  I could see the entire town of Lincoln City.  A blue Salmon River wound back towards the Coast Range.  And of course, the Pacific Ocean spread beyond the western horizon.

The only disappointment was that I was too early for the wildflowers.  Blooming in the summer months, the only vegetation I saw now was lots of green grass.  (Don't get me wrong, it's always great to see green in winter.)  I made a mental bookmark to return in July.

Close up of Road's End Beach

The return trip wasn't a lot of fun.  Going downhill was hard on both feet, and by the time I finally reached the car, they were both sore and throbbing.  I'd initially planned one more stop at the beach in Neskowin, but realizing I'd probably overdone it, instead headed for home.

No worries, my feet recovered just fine the following week.  And now with this latest trip, I'd filled another gap in the Oregon Coast map.  Not a bad way to spend a sunny winter's day!

Sharing with: Our World Tuesday and Wednesday Around the World.


  1. The views are just gorgeous!

  2. It really gets better in the second part of your outing. Love the fact that you move through the forest, then you see glimpses of the light blue ocean. But the views up top really steal the show. There is no wrong place to point your camera and shoot. Really enjoyed these Linda! Thanks for sharing with us.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  3. Wonderful winter landscape.

  4. Incredible photos and well worth your effort! I'm surprised everything looks so green there in February. You mentioned you were lugging some heavy lenses and I was wondering if you also carried along a tripod. Based on those photos, I guess you were. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Great images. Love the green and blue in them. Wishing it was like that here in NH but we have a mix of mud, rain, & snow :)

  6. What a great day! I love the views of the ocean with all the different shades of blue.

  7. Just beautiful pictures, Linda! I enjoyed them all, and I worried about your foot as you ascended, because I know how much harder it is for me to descend steep slopes. I'm glad to hear you stressed it but didn't hurt it. those views of the ocean are stunning. :-)

  8. Everything is so green already. Do you use a hiking pole when you walk?

  9. What a treat to see the ocean and the river in one blog...all so blue and beautiful against the green. Thanks for a green St. Patrick's Day post.

  10. Wonderful photos! So nice to see the green!!!

  11. Such a wonderful place, thanks for the tour. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  12. thanks again for sharing your beautiful world. #13 is amazing......the whole series is amazing.

  13. Beautiful scenery! The image where you write "The higher I climb, the better the scenery"? Wow!

  14. Beautiful shots of the ocean and estuary! Looks like a fantastic view!

  15. Looks like a very beautiful place! And now I miss the sea (or the ocean) a little bit more...!!

  16. Wow! Really breathtaking views! Without reading, I wouldn't have guessed these were February photos. I think I would have to get in shape for this hike!

  17. What a simply splendid virtual hike I have just enjoyed, thanks Linda.

  18. As you said 'the views are jaw dropping'. What a spectacular day you have had. What a contrast in beaches and the magic captured so beautifully with your camera. Awesome.

  19. What vistas ! Gorgeous photography too!

    Wishing you a wonder filled week,
    artmusedog and carol

  20. Your expeditions are always an inspiration! Fabulous views and great pix!

  21. So very green and what views! I hope your orthopaedic surgeon doesn't read your blog!

  22. Oh I miss the coast! And it was sunny!

  23. What a wonderful gift of scenery!

  24. Very pretty! I don't like turning around either!

  25. "Was there anything to gain by going all the way to the top?" Absolutely, because you just made this visitor very happy with your lovely pictures of this area from a perspective I'll never see in person :)
    Happy St. Patrick's Day Linda!

  26. this looks like a wonderful hike with amazing views. Thanks for taking us along. I am planning more hiking, and you have given me a little nudge. Happy travels. Great to "meet" you over at Communal Global.

  27. These are really breathtaking, Linda. I'm hooked. You are on the other side of my ocean!

    ALOHA from Honolulu

  28. Dear Linda,
    a wonderful landscape und nice pitures !
    Greetings from germany

  29. Beautiful photos of a spectacular location. Cascade Head is a favorite place of ours; we try to get there at least once every year, on a week day if possible. We always leave the dogs at home & hope that other people will respect the rules as well because the area has sensitive vegetation and is a breeding ground for birds. And last time we were there we saw a herd of elk on the hillside.

  30. Wow, that is amazingly beautiful coast line


  31. Wow! You walk to some spectacular places.

  32. Hi! Many beautiful Photos! The full panorama photo is very fantastic. Thanks foe sharing.

  33. Nice to see the green grass and the water

  34. Hello Linda, you are just amazing hiking with a sore foot! But, oh wow! The scenic views of the coast are gorgeous!

  35. What a view, that beach is beautiful. And I'm glad you made it down, always more difficult than it seems. I'm happy to read that you are healing.

  36. Wow those are some stunning views! I am glad you went to the top too! :)

  37. If we were close, we can be trekking partners. I love walking & climbing slopes. :) Glad to hear your feet recovered, I know how it feels when they're battered.
    It must have been really rewarding to go till tge top and witness those stunning view. It is breathtaking!

  38. This looks like an amazing hike! So often the views at the end don't meet expectations, but this looks like the hard work was worth it in the end.

  39. Wow! Amazing views, well worth the strain to get there.


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