Oregon and Okanagan Road Trip 2014 – Day 5: Three Capes Scenic Drive

Flipping through one of the info booklets we’d picked up at an Oregon Visitor Center, we found an article about the Three Capes Scenic Drive just south of Tillamook. With nothing planned yet for the day we took advantage of another early morning wake up and headed out for a day of sight seeing. Our first stop was just south of Nehalem at one of the tiny espresso huts that seem to dot the roadside. Armed with coffee and our Oregon map, we continued south through Tillamook and then west on Netarts Hwy to the Cape Meares Loop, eventually working our way to the first cape – Cape Meares State Park.

They have a lighthouse, a friendly volunteer with dog cookies, beautiful views of the beach and a giant Sitka spruce called the Octopus Tree. We arrived just as the site was opening up and got to enjoy a nearly solitary visit.

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The beach that you view to the south of Cape Meares is at Oceanside and is a perfect stop because it is on the route down from Cape Meares. The beach is just as beautiful as it looks from the lighthouse and only a few meters from the parking lot. It was still low(ish) tide when we got there and we enjoyed a very relaxing hour of beach combing before continuing on our drive. You can apparently find agate along this beach and nothing occupies us more than a good mineral hunt. I found a few shards of green and grey chert but nothing spectacular.

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Our third stop was at Cape Lookout State Park, south of Oceanside. There is a state park campground but we parked further south at the trailhead signs to do some hiking. There are two options for hiking: one to the beach and an approximately 5 mile return hike to the tip of the cape that offers fairly shaded hiking and some pretty ocean views. We opted for the trail to the cape, hoping that it would be cooler for the dog. The trail doesn’t have huge elevation changes but in some parts is definitely typical coastal hiking with mud and roots. It was close to 30C (even in the forest) and Patches needed several breaks to cool down so the whole thing took us around 2.5 hours.

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We were a little worried that Patches might have overdone it so we headed pretty quickly from Cape Lookout south to Tierra del Mar. This is pretty much the easiest beach access ever since it is right off the highway and you can drive down onto the beach. Patches got into the ocean for a “wade” and we figured he wasn’t suffering from any serious effects of the heat.

There is one more cape on the tour, Cape Kiawanda, but we didn’t stop because somehow it was already late afternoon and we were exhausted! Just past Cape Kiawanda we joined up with the 101 heading north and drove home through farm country. We took two stops on our homeward drive – the first for ice cream at a local farm store and the second at Munson Creek Falls State Park to see the waterfall. It isn’t the most spectacular falls but 1/8 of a mile in the shaded forest is easy enough. Patches got to swim in the creek and we stretched out our tired legs.

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We finally arrived home around 6:30, exhausted but very happy with our day. Patches was so tired he fell asleep almost instantly but we managed to find enough energy to cook a campfire dinner and roast s’mores to celebrate another excellent day of vacation.

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