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Cape Falcon Marine Reserve: Visiting the Site

Find out the best places to experience the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve on the northern Oregon Coast, as well as the best practices for hiking and tidepooling

Come Meet the Wonders of Oregon’s Oceans

Cape Falcon Marine Reserve is located just offshore from the popular Oswald West State Park. Hiking trails atop the Cape provide views out over the reserve. Visitors can look over the marine reserve from the Neahkahnie Mountain Highway 101 overlooks, or from several hiking trails.

They can also enjoy beach walking, ocean sports, and viewing wildlife from Neahkahnie and Short Sand beaches. Nearby towns and ports include Astoria, Warrenton, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita and Garibaldi.

Here are a few of the best hikes for viewing the marine reserve (See map below for location):

1. Cape Falcon

5 miles round trip

The Cape Falcon trail begins at the Cape Falcon west parking lot along U.S. Highway 101, just north of the main Short Sand Beach parking lot with restrooms. A quick ½-mile hike to the Kramer Memorial gives way to a brilliant overlook of Short Sand Beach and Cape Falcon Marine Reserve.

Continue the rest of the way through old-growth forest out to Cape Falcon, where on a clear day you can see north all the way to Tillamook Head and south to Cape Lookout. Keep an eye out for gray whales.

2. Devil’s Cauldron

0.2 miles round trip

The Devil’s Cauldron trail starts at the gravel Elk Flats parking lot off U.S. Highway 101, south of the main Short Sand Beach parking lots, north of the paved Neahkahnie overlooks. Look for the North Nehakahnie Mountain trail sign. Take the short trail to a shaded clearing at the top of a cliff, complete with a bench to sit on and take in the view of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve.

The ocean feeds into a small cove between two sheer cliffs, surging against the rocks. Keep an eye out for nesting seabirds on the cliffs and offshore rocks.

Safety: Trails can be slippery and crumbing. Wear hiking shoes and tread carefully, especially when wet. Stay on trails and back from dangerous cliffs. No restrooms at Devil’s Cauldron.

3. Neahkahnie Beach

2 to 3 miles round trip

Walk the beach to the incredible Neahkahnie Mountain sea cliffs north of Manzanita. Cape Falcon Marine Reserve’s southern boundary is ½ mile north of Nehalem Road.

At very low tides, explore secret tidepools along the rocks. Depending on where you begin along Ocean Road, the hike can range from 2 to 3 miles round trip (from the Nehalem Road or Laneda Avenue beach entrances).

Safety: Check the tides before you go and prepare to walk south as tides come in. Take care when walking on boulders. Beware of sneaker waves and rolling logs.

Hiking Safety & Etiquette

More than a million people visit Oswald West State Park each year. What you do makes an impact. Please set an example for responsible recreation and stay safe.

Follow these simple guidelines:

• In case of an emergency, call 9-1-1.

• Stay on maintained trails.

• Pack out all trash and help pick up litter, including cigarette butts.

• Leash pets and pick up all waste.

• Do not cross fences, climb cliffs, or walk out onto rocks or headlands.

• Be prepared for sudden weather changes.

• Watch for sneaker waves and rolling logs on beaches.

• Bike, bus or carpool whenever possible.

Tidepool Etiquette

Only walk on the sand or bare rock. Touch animals gently with one wet finger. Do not pry anything from the rocks. It is illegal to remove any wildlife or plants from Cape Falcon Marine Reserve tidepools.

Here is more information on proper tidepool etiquette from ODFW.