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Cape Lookout State Park
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What’s to Love: After a beautiful, 1 mile, all downhill hike you’ll end-up on one of the most breathtaking beaches on the Oregon coast. Plus, the hike back uphill is just enough to deter large crowds of people from visiting this spot. With the large cliffs, sweeping views of low dunes, and a totally wooded backdrop, this beach has it all, except 80 degree+ water. This may look like a beach right out of a Hawaiian guidebook, but the water temperature will definitely tell you it’s all Oregon. There will be plenty of room to find a lunch spot in the perfect white sand. On my first visit, my son Rhys (3 years old) and his little friend Jasmine (2 1/2 at the time) took off running all over this beach buck naked – they loved it!
Cape Lookout State Park is one of the largest camping areas along the Oregon coast. If you feel like camping there are 38 full hookup, 1 electric, 173 tent (maximum site 60 feet); 13 yurts; group tent (2 areas); hiker/biker camp; 3 deluxe cabins (with bathrooms, kitchen, tv/vcr), hiker/biker camp. For information only, call (503)842-4981 or (800) 551-6949. To make reservations, call 1-800-452-5687.

Caveats: Of course, the biggest issue for most is probably the all-uphill hike back up to the parking lot. After running around on the beach, your kids may not have the energy to make it back up the trail. We brought a Bob – Iron Man Stroller/Jogger, and for the most part, it was fine. However, I do not recommend strollers or joggers on this trail – there are simply too many roots and rocks. You’re much better off with a backpack-style-carrier.

BIG CAUTION TO PARENTS – this trail has a MAJOR cliff drop-off about half the way down. You need to keep your kids in sight, because a fall from this cliff would certainly be fatal. You’ll know it’s coming when you see a bench to sit and rest. It is a beautiful view, but there are no fences or protective railings. Be extremely careful in this section of the trail.

Website: Cape Lookout State Park

Distance from Portland: Within 2 to 2 1/2 hours drive.

Recommended Ages: All ages – please watch younger children by cliff drop-off described in the “Caveats” section.

Stress Factor: Medium stress – if I haven’t mentioned it enough, the cliff drop-off is truly scary. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, but scary for kids. Stay with them and hold their hands by this section. If your kids aren’t used to being in a car over an hour, the drive becomes a very long one. However, when you get to the beach, all your cares will cease to exist.

Physical Difficulty: Medium – hard hike back up…luckily it’s short.

Family Fun Factor: Medium/High – older kids may be bored by the lack of excitement. Under age5, they will be running all over that beach like there is no tomorrow – they want to experience with freedom of such a wide-open space. They’ll get a huge kick out of all the seaweed that washes up on shore.

Pet Friendly: Yes! A great place for the family dog to truly cut loose.

Weather Considerations: It’s the Oregon coast, even in the summer be prepared for cold temperatures and rain. Probably not the best place to go with kids during the winter months and/or rainy summer days.

Insider Info: This is not an easy hike. Everyone will be smiling on the way down, but the mile back up does go pretty fast. I often play games of hide and seek with my son Rhys – this keeps him actively hiking on the trail, and it works quite well. You’ll also want to limit beach toys. Your backpacks will be full with extra clothing, food and drinks. Instead, bring a frisbee and possibly a beach ball to knock around.

Family Tips: No decent restaurants in the immediate area, pack a picnic lunch for the beach! Also, you’ll want to bring some serious snacks, drinks and entertainment for the car ride. You’ll probably be spending as much time in the car as you do at the beach. Don’t let it deter you though…as long as you’re safe, this is a wonderful family spot. Oh yeah…no shade! Bring sunglasses, hats and plenty of sunscreen.

Technorati Tags: Cape Lookout, hiking, cape lookout beach, beaches for kids, beaches for families, family beaches, Oregon coast

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3 Comments


  1. If you don't want to go down to the beach, you can hike out to almost the tip of the point on a 5-mile round-trip trail. The trail rolls up and down a bit, but no major ups or downs. The views are stunning and in the winter, it is one of the best places to spot whales from land. Somewhere in the bushes near the end of the trail is a crashed plane (from the 1940s, if I remember correctly), but it is not visible because the brush is so thick. Bring sunscreen as portions of the trail are highly exposed.

    • Thanks so much for that information! We haven\’t hiked that trail yet, and it sounds like a better bet for parents who will be pushing and/or carrying their kids. We\’ll have to do it soon.

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