- Trip Name: Oregon Coast Trail - Indian Beach to Seaside
- Trip Length: 10 Miles (out and back)
- Best Time To Visit: Spring and Summer
- Difficulty Rating: 7
- Views: 8
- Wilderness Experience: 5
- Recommended Activities: Day Hike, Backpacking (no overnight parking at Indian Beach)
- Best For: Hikers, Backpackers, Dogs (leash required)
- Restroom: Yes, Indian Beach Trailhead
- Permit: $5 day-use permit, 12 ($30) or 24-month ($50) State Park Permit or State Park Camping receipt, free at Ecola State Park North Trailhead in Seaside
- Recommended Map(s): Ecola State Park Clatsop Loop Trail Map (Available at Indian Beach Trailhead)
- Click here to download our FREE topo map
- Click here to download this Trail Guide as a PDF
- Click here for our photo gallery
Trip Technical Data:
- Trailhead: Indian Beach (no overnight parking) or Ecola State Park North Trailhead
- Trailhead Elevation: Indian Beach = 55', Ecola SP North TH = 160'
- Summit Elevation: 1150' - Clark's Mountain
- Trip Time: 5-6 hours (out and back)
- Shuttle Length: none, or 11 miles for one way hike
This hike has many names and many options for length and time. Starting in the Indian Beach parking lot the trail is called the Cannon Beach Trail and the Clatsop Loop Trail. After the Hikers Camp (described below) the trail heading North to Seaside is known as the Tillamook Head Trail. The whole section of the trail from Indian Beach to Seaside is also a small portion of the Oregon Coast Trail which runs the entire length of the Oregon Coast for 382 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River in Fort Stevens State Park near Warrentown to the California border just South of Brookings.
The hike we did, and the one I will describe, is from the Indian Beach Trailhead to the Ecola State Park North Trailhead. We did the hike out and back with an added trek into the town of Seaside for lunch. This made our total mileage around 14.5 miles and it took us about 7 hours (including a half hour lunch). Although this may be the longest this hike could be I will describe several other options for much shorter and just as rewarding hikes.
The trail starts just off Indian Beach, with an amazing view as seen in the photo above. At the Northwest corner of the parking lot there is a kiosk with a map of the Clatsop Loop Trail displayed and also a pamphlet with the map that you can take with you. This pamphlet describes many points of interest along the Clatsop Loop trail and also gives a good overview of the trail.
The first 1.25 miles of the trail lead up a gravel road gaining nearly 800 feet in elevation. This took us a bit by surprise when we started out. Once out of the parking lot you more of less follow the upstream flow of Indian Creek towards Hiker's Camp. Here there are many great examples of the Sitka Spruce which dominate the forest for the length of the hike. Just before you reach the Hiker's Camp there is a four way intersection in the trail marked by this sign. As indicated, and the trial that we followed, to the right is Seaside. I would highly recommend continuing straight before going to Seaside or back down to your car. Here you will see the hiker's camp, then a short decline, past an old World War II radar station, to the viewpoint. This is one of the many fantastic views along the trail and one of the easiest to get to.
If you choose to make this a shorter hike and are ready now to head back to your car I recommend taking a left at the trail sign and continue to follow the Clatsop Loop Trail. At this point the trail changes to more of a single track hiking trail and follows more closely to the coast than the gravel road. On your way down there are no shortage of more outstanding views of the ocean, the hills of the Oregon Coastal Range to the South and the beautiful trees and shrubs that line the trail. Once back at your car you will have finished the 2.5 mile loop. If time permits Indian Beach is a great spot to cool down on a hot day.
Continuing on the trail towards Seaside from the four way intersection, just behind Hiker's Camp, you begin the second long climb of the hike. You will gain 250 feet, up several switchbacks, in about a third of a mile. Once on top of the ridge there are several peek-a-boo views out over the cliff tops down to the Pacific below. For the next 1.7 miles you will slowly gain another 275 feet to the hike's high point on Clark's Mountain. This is a great spot for a rest or for a lunch break. And, this is another good spot to turn around and retrace your steps back to Indian Beach. Turning here would make the hike about 6.5 miles.
The remaining two miles is mostly downhill and very steep and slippery in places. There is a small fork in the trail as you approach the flat at the bottom of the hill where you need to bear right to end up at the trailhead. You will arrive in a small parking area on Sunset Boulevard behind a row of high end ocean front condos. There is no view of the ocean here and no facilities either. From here the hike turns around and follows the same trail back to Indian Beach to complete the 10 mile out and back trip.
Before turning and heading back to your car at Indian Beach, if you have some energy left, and want to check out Seaside, the walk down Sunset Boulevard to the beach is about a mile and then another mile into downtown Seaside. We walked out to Highway 101 and made our way to Bell Buoy of Seaside. Here you'll experience some of the freshest and most delicious seafood you will find anywhere! This was a great refuel for the return trip to Indian Beach.
Park at the Ecola State Park North Trailhead and hike into the Hiker's Camp (free) for the night. There is rustic cabin space for up to 12, a fire ring (firewood available at camp for $5) and covered picnic table.