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Cape Perpetua Scenic Area
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Trailhead at Cape Perpetua Scenic AreaWhat’s to Love:  Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is just south of the coastal town of Yachats, Oregon.  The scenic area offers many of the amenities of a state park including a campground with piped drinking water, flush toilets, fire rings, and tables, a visitor center offering interpretive programs, and plenty of picnic areas in the day-use area.  While these features are a boon to the average visitor, parents will be pleasantly surprised by something else.

Saint Perpetua TrailIn addition to the amenities listed above, Cape Perpetua offers some of the best hiking opportunities on the Oregon coast.  Specifically, the day-use area offers several hikes all starting at a dizzying elevation above the ocean.

The Whispering Spruce trail offers a gentle (.3 mile) loop around the day-use area on top of the Cape.  I’ve seen several websites call this one of the most scenic hikes on the Oregon coast.  Unfortunately, on our visit, the entire hike was socked-in with fog.  However, we could hear the ocean churning away far below us.  If you need to stretch your legs, or if you have some novice hikers, this is the perfect trail!

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, hike the Saint Perpetua trail 2 miles downhill (700 feet of elevation loss!) to the Visitor’s Center.  Or, park your car at the Visitor’s Center for a whole host of hiking options including: Oregon Coast Trail, Discovery Trail, Giant Spruce Trail, Cook’s Ridge Trail, Gwynn Creek Trail, and the Cummins Creek Trail.  This is just a sample…there are even more hiking opportunities.

Caveats:  Just like most hiking areas, Cape Perpetua charges a day-use-fee ($5).  If you’re planning on visiting multiple areas within the Siuslaw National Forest, pick-up a Northwest Forest pass, which might save you some money.  Here is a list of vendors.

WebsiteCape Perpetual Scenic Area

Distance from Portland:  It’s approximately 160 miles from downtown Portland.  Averaging 60 miles per hour, that works out to 2 hours and 40 minutes.  However, it’s unlikely that you’ll average that speed, especially if you’re coming from Newport through all the small towns where the speed limit is often below 50 miles per hour.  Plan on at least 3 hours.  If you take pit stops, it will be closer to 3 1/2 hours.  Here is a Google map of the area.

Recommended Ages:  The hikes, camping and Visitor’s Center offer something for all ages.  If you’re traveling with infants or toddlers, stick to the day-use area and take the Whispering Spruce hike.

Parental Stress Factor:  Very low stress area.  If your kids have a difficult time in the car, the drive from Portland can get a bit long.  As usual, don’t let your small children hike too far ahead.  There are some big drops, even on the Whispering Spruce hike.

Physical Difficulty:  The Whispering Spruce is not difficult at all, and it’s wheelchair accessible.  The other hikes will be more physically challenging due to drastic elevation changes either up, down, or a combination of both!

Family Fun Factor:  Medium if you’re a hiking/outdoor family.  If hiking is more of a challenge, the fun factor moves to low.  It’s still a great destination!

Pet Friendly:  Dogs okay on leashes.  This is not an appropriate area to let dogs run ahead off-leash.  There are a lot of families with kids who use these trails.

Weather Considerations:  The hikes will be more enjoyable on a beautiful, sunny day.  If it’s cloudy or foggy, you might miss the incredible views!

Stone shelterInsider Info:  There are several other attractions in the immediate area including:  The Devil’s Churn, Spouting Horns and Tidepools.  This website provides plenty of information.  I also recommend checking-out the town of Yachats.  

Family Tips:  The Whispering Spruce hike (.3 mile loop) is fine with a jogging stroller or backpack.  A stroller (any type) is not the best option on the Saint Perpetua Trail (2.2 miles) – use a backpack or other child carrier, if necessary.

Plan on having a picnic up at the day-use area!  There are some picnic tables in the perfect setting.  Plus, there are restrooms available.

Technorati Tags: Cape Perpetua, National Scenic Areas, Oregon Coast, hiking, camping, campgrounds

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