Ecola State Park
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Your Guide to Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast

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Perched dramatically at the tip of Tillamook Head, Ecola State Park is one of the most scenic and wild state parks on the Oregon coast.

The park is located at the north end of Cannon Beach and is filled with walking paths ending in dramatic viewpoints, plenty of nature viewing opportunities, and enough recreational activities to keep you entertained for days.

Exploring Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast

Map depicting Ecola National Park and the surrounding area.
Click the image to view the clickable map for Ecola State Park

Ecola State Park is a magical little headland jutting out into the Pacific that’s popular amongst Portlanders and tourists alike. It’s no surprise as to why – this place is drop-dead GORGEOUS and has tons of exciting things for adventurers to experience.

Hike the many trails or take on the mammoth Discovery Trail to see it all. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, explore the tide pools, head to nearby surf havens, and more! Here’s everything you can do around Ecola State Park.

Hikes in Ecola State Park

Ecola State Park is a mecca when it comes to hikes. Complete with stunning views and in varying lengths and levels of difficulty, there is something for everyone. These are our favs…

Clatsop Loop Trail from Indian Beach

Distance: 2.9 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 784 feet

Be prepared for some burning calves, as there is quite a hunk of uphill climbing involved along Clatsop Loop Trail. But with high elevation comes great views, and this hike isn’t short of them, with vistas out over the ocean and lighthouse.

A view of Indian Beach from the Catslop Loop Trail in Ecola State Park.
View of Indian Beach from Catslop Trail

The trail starts at the information kiosk at the Indian Beach parking area and heads up to Hikers’ Camp before looping back around to the parking lot, passing some breathtaking views of the coastline, including the Tillamook Rock lighthouse.

RELATED: 11 Stunning Things To Do on the North Oregon Coast

Crescent Beach Trail from Tillamook Rock

Distance: 2.3 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 538 feet

The beautiful Crescent Beach Trail will take you down to the ocean and is a nice short but steep hike, which is why it is listed as moderate. There are also likely to be a few fallen trees on this trail, and it can get very muddy.

View across an empty Crescent Beach on an overcast day in Ecola State Park.
Crescent Beach is worth discovering while exploring Ecola State Park

The start of the hike is well-signposted from the main parking lot. Once you reach the bottom of the trail, you’ll be greeted with what is likely to be an almost deserted beach surrounded by ferns and crashing waves!

Alternate Route: Crescent Beach Trail

Distance: .5 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 147 feet

You’ll have to hike down to the beach no matter what, but if you want to skip the hike above, check out this shorter trail, which starts further south along Ecola Park Rd.

Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail

Distance: 14 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 3,297 feet

If you are up for a longer walk, try the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.  You’ll be following a famous trail that was used in the Lewis and Clark Expedition and makes up part of the Oregon Coast Trail. The route goes from Indian Beach to the town of Seaside, or vice versa, depending on your starting point.

It is a beautiful walk but can get very muddy, and the common landslides in Ecola State Park have been known to cause some downed trees. Make sure you bring the right gear!

Grassy hills with view of the ocean on the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
It’s hard to beat the views from the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail

This trail will essentially take you through all of Ecola State Park, so if you’re here to explore thoroughly, this might be the trail for you!

TIP: Part of this trail overlaps with the Clatsop Loop Trail, so you could always turn the two hikes into one longer one. You’ll be walking through a forest of old-growth trees right along the Pacific Ocean.

RELATED: 17 Breathtaking Oregon Coast Hikes

Indian Beach Trail via Ecola State Park

Distance: 3.8 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 872 feet

This section is part of the Oregon Coast Trail, which takes the trail further inland than it used to after being washed out in 2017. Much of the trail takes you through the thick forest with the occasional viewpoint.

At first, the path leads down over a footbridge over Cresent Creek before switchbacking up into a Sitka spruce forest. From this lofty point, you’ll get some great views of the headland before you head inland. At the end of the hike, you will head back towards the coast.

The reward at the end is a stroll along the beautiful Indian Beach, which is tucked into a shallow cove.

Nina hiking through the forests of Ecola State Park along Indian Beach Trail.
Along the Indian Beach Trail

TIP: Unfortunately, landslides are pretty common in Ecola State Park, which can have an impact on some of the trails. You should always check the status of the trails before you head out.

Alternate Route: Bald Point via Indian Beach Trail

Distance: 1.4 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 416 feet

If there is a landslide on the above trail (or if the parking lot is full or you simply don’t want to hike as far), you can hop on this alternate route instead.

You’ll take a short hike through a verdant forest to a beautiful viewpoint where you can see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and Indian Beach. This stretch is short and pretty easy overall, but it’s pretty steep in some spots, hence the moderate rating.

Nina walking along a trail between bushes overlooking Bald Point.
Nina overlooking Bald Point

The remainder of the Bald Point Trail is closed, so you’ll either have to turn around or continue onto the Indian Beach Trail trail towards the beach.

TIP: If you don’t feel like hiking, you can drive to Indian Beach.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Loop

Distance: .4 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 49 feet

One of the easiest hikes in Ecola State Park is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Loop. You’ll get a great return on your investment with this one – hike the easy trail for around 15 minutes and be rewarded with epic views of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, aka Terrible Tilly.

You’ll also be able to see all the way to Cannon Beach and its famous rock formations as you hike.

Tillamook Lighthouse on a rock in the ocean framed by bushes.
View of the lighthouse from Tillamook Head National Recreation Trail

The only downside of this easy hike is that its pretty popular, so you’ll likely be sharing these awesome views with quite a few other people.

RELATED: How To Do an Oregon Coast Day Trip From Portland

Other Things to Do at Ecola State Park

Even if you don’t hike, there are plenty of other things to do at Ecola State Park, most of which center around the gorgeous beaches and plethora of wildlife that call this area home.

Indian Beach at Ecola State Park

Indian Beach sits at the southern slope of Tillamook Head. It is the ideal place to sit back and watch the surfers out at sea, or if you are feeling up to it, you could always join them! Bring your own board or pop by Cannon Beach to pick up a rental before heading out here.

Plenty of tide pools can be found at the southern end of the beach at low tide, and they are usually teeming with all sorts of marine life. There are also some picnic tables if you want to pack a lunch, plus a great viewing point overlooking the beach.

Scene of tourists on Indian Beach at Ecola State Park in Oregon state.
Stop off at Indian Beach on your visit to Ecola State Park

This beach is easily reachable from the parking lot, but is rarely crowded, making it a favorite spot to visit in Ecola State Park.

Crescent Beach at Ecola State Park

Stunning Crescent Beach is hidden away between two tall headlands in Ecola State Park. It offers you a private, misty retreat, as the majority of people who visit the park will not venture down onto these sands.

Overlooking Crescent Beach in Ecola State Park on a sunny day.
Crescent Beach

The beach itself can be home to an impressive ensemble of sea creatures, including seals and sea lions. You’ll have to trek a little bit to get to this rocky yet gorgeous beach, which is why this pristine spot is never overly crowded!

RELATED: 23 Amazing Beaches in Oregon and What To Do Nearby

Nature Watching at Ecola State Park

There is no shortage of majestic creatures at Ecola State Park. Birds are likely to be the first thing you’ll notice. From bald eagles to peregrine falcons, this part of the coast attracts dozens of rare and unique species of bird.

The park has rocky shorelines, beaches, woodlands, rainforests, and estuaries, all of which provide habitats for a range of birdlife, making it a haven for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

Up close portrait of a Peregrine falcon sitting on a piece of a driftwood.
The peregrine falcon – just one of the residents of Ecola State Park

Throughout winter and spring, the whales come out to play. If you’re in the park at this time, you’ll have the best chance of spotting these huge beasts just out to sea.

You can also see herds of Roosevelt Elk at Ecola State Park. You’ll see them grazing in the meadows or slowly emerging from the rainforests, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled while you’re hiking.

Tillamook Lighthouse

Tillamook Lighthouse stands proudly on a rock out to sea. However, this lighthouse also goes by another name, Terrible Tilly, and for good reason. Ferocious storms have made it hard for lighthouse keepers to maintain this outpost, so trust us when we say it’s best viewed from afar.

View of Tillamook Lighthouse from Ecola State Park day use area.
Tillamook Lighthouse or “Terrible Tilly” from the day use area

Today, the lighthouse is closed to the public, lying battered and bruised around a mile out, but it is still well worth a look from one of the many viewpoints in the park.

RELATED: 11 Oregon Lighthouses & The Adventures Nearby

Ecola State Park Day Use Area

If you’re short on time and can only pop into Ecola State Park as a pit stop on your road trip, pull over in the day use area for a beat.

An empty picnic bench with a great view over Ecola State Park from the day use area.
Stop at the day use area for a picnic

This is the fastest way to get a feel for what the park is all about. You’ll get views of the lighthouse and Crescent Beach, and you can even see Canon Beach if you hike for a short while. There are also picnic tables for a quick lunch before heading back out on the road.

Nearby Things to Do Around Ecola State Park

Cannon Beach

No trip to this part of Oregon would be complete without a trip to Cannon Beach, home to what is likely Oregon’s most well-known landmark, Haystack Rock. The mighty rock juts out of the ocean just offshore, towering over the beach, with plenty of marine life showing its face at low tide.

Haystack Rock and reflection at Cannon Beach at sunset.
Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach is a gorgeous sight

It’s also where you’ll likely be based and where your choice of markets and restaurants will be. Ecola State Park is just down the road, so this will be an inevitable and well-worth-it place for you to stop or base at.

READ MORE: Best Things To Do in Cannon Beach


Seaside, Oregon, is as quaint as the same suggests and will soon be your favorite beach town. It is often referred to as the jewel of the Oregon Coast, and it’s clear to see why.

One of the best things to do is walk or bike the 1.5-mile promenade that lines the seafront, popping into shops and eateries along the way.

Nina walking along Seaside Promenade besides a bronze statue.
Along the Seaside promenade

Keep your eyes peeled for seals and sea lions and enjoy the miles and miles of flat, sandy beaches. Enjoy hiking, kayaking, razor clamming, and kite flying, taking a break in the many cafes, pubs, and restaurants.

Hug Point

With a waterfall cascading over the rocks and deep-sea caves carved into the cliffs, Hug Point is a fascinating place to explore.  The state recreation site used to be an old stagecoach route that ran right along the beach and was used before the highway was put in.

Misty view of people walking on a beach in the distance surrounded by large rocks at Hug Point
Visit Hug Point – one of the best things to do near Ecola State Park

A walk along the beach will not disappoint, with stunning views and burnt-colored cliffs to admire. Depending on how far you walk, you may catch a glimpse of Haystack Rock in the distance.

Explore the tide pools along the way, which are often teeming with marine life. Just be aware of the tides when you visit.

READ MORE: Your Guide to Hug Point State Recreation Site

Oswald West State Park

Just a short drive away, you’ll find Oswald West State Park, which stretches for 4 miles along the coastline. Make sure you pop by the beautiful, secluded sandy beach, which stands in stark contrast to the dense, temperate rainforest that also lines this part of the coast.

Surfer ripping a wave besides a cliff face at Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park.
Surfing at Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park

There are miles of hiking trails within the park that lead to breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, including a 13-mile stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail. The park is also very popular with surfers, so don’t be surprised if you find the water teeming with those trying to catch a wave!

Where to Stay Near Ecola State Park

There’s no camping at Ecola State Park! Unless you count the couple of hike-in-only shacks. We love camping at either Nehalem or Fort Stevens State Parks. Otherwise, here’s the best accommodation nearby if you’re not camping:

👉 Accommodation Near Ecola State Park

We hope this post helped you better explore Ecola State Park! Check out more posts on the Oregon Coast and even more adventures around the state.

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