Cape Lookout is the middle cape on the Three Capes Loop, which also includes Cape Meares and Cape Kiwanda. This loop is fabulous to drive offering repeatedly breathtaking views of the ocean, rock formations, bays, sea birds, and quirky little beach towns. It’s easy to spend all day just enjoying the sights, never exiting your car. If you want to move around though, here are a few destinations worth considering in Cape Lookout State Park.

Overlook south of park

25 Steps Wheels:

On the mountainside south of the park there is a turnout off the road with an overlook of the entire area. Views include a wide expanse of ocean, and a bird’s eye view of the cape, Netarts Bay, and even Three Arch Rocks in the distance. This is a great place to stretch your legs, stroll closer to the cliff edge, and get some great photos.

Walk Details for Overlook south of park
Terrain: Dirt, flat
Seating: No
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: No
Directions: If you’re heading north down the mountain overpass, this lookout will be shortly before you reach the park. Cape Lookout Road bends to the right, and there is a dirt turnout straight ahead.

Beach near campground

200+ Steps Wheels:

My first goal on arriving at the Cape Lookout State Park campground was to identify a way to get to the beach, not just for a view of the ocean, but also for a stroll. Unfortunately, beach access is a distance from the campground. Near the campground entrance there is a road that parallels the beach. But there is a berm that blocks you from actually seeing the ocean. Parking is not allowed along this road. If you are visiting when the campground is not full, you may be able to park temporarily in an empty campsite near the entrance, which is what my husband and I did. Even from those camp spots, the walk is more than 200 steps.

At the top of the berm, there is a nice view of the ocean, but beach walking is obstructed by a wide swath of large, irregular rocks. (See the Oregon State Park site link below. It has an interactive photo of the beach that allows you to see the rocks beforehand, if you like.) The rocks were too much for me to negotiate, even with help from my husband. I abandoned the idea of a beach stroll and settled for the view. Getting there and back was pretty much my walking limit anyway.

Walk Details for Beach near campground
Terrain: Flat pavement, then packed sand when you reach the berm which is medium steepness.
Seating: None, although you could sit in the sand if necessary.
Fee: Day pass, recreation pass, or camping receipt
Restrooms: No. You would need to enter the campground or head to the Day Use Area.
Directions: Enter the State Park, and follow the signs to the campground. If possible, park in an empty campsite near the entrance. We used D1. (The A and B loops were closed.) Exit the campground on foot and cross the road to the sand berm. Just a bit to the south you will see a trail up the berm to the beach.

Day use area south view

100 Steps Wheels:

At what we thought was the end of our day of exploring, I stepped out of our travel trailer just as the sky was changing to shades of pink and salmon. I immediately turned back around to tell my husband the sun was starting to set. We loaded up the girls (our dogs) and ventured out seeking a place to enjoy the sunset on the sea. The campground area offered no options. We kept heading south and ended up in the Day Use Area. We made it to the destination described in the directions just as the sun’s rays were peeking under the cloud bank. A view of the ocean and south coastline can be enjoyed standing or sitting at the picnic table. Perfect timing and a fabulous view!

Walk Details for Day use area south view
Terrain: Path is pavement with slight decline. Then fairly smooth gravel with medium incline.
Seating: Picnic table
Fee: Day pass, recreation pass, or camping receipt
Restrooms: Yes, up trail at south end of parking lot.
Directions: Keep driving straight as you enter the day-use parking lot, and park as close to the south west corner of the lot as you can. South of the gazebo, and south of the parking lot edge, you will see a path that heads west to the beach. Partway down the path, head left where it branches up small rise (terrain changes to gravel). You will come to a picnic table from which you can see a view of the coastline to the south.