The drive in to Ecola State Park is an apropos warm-up for the breathtaking views held within.  Sunlight spilled through the trees at intervals on the day we visited, streaming hazy rays onto the fern-strewn forest floor.  Stretched across the north end of busy Cannon Beach, the coastal city hustle and bustle melts away as you take in some of the northern Oregon coast’s most renowned vistas.

Weather can add an additional element of interest to the dramatic park panoramas.  When I reviewed the day’s photos, they appeared from two separate visits.  Scattered cloud cover during our outing afforded us scenes both dark and stormy, and bright and cheerful.

lighthouse iconLove lighthouses?
Check out the Oregon Coast Lighthouse Roundup.

Ecola Point picnic area

100 Steps Wheels:

Although I very much wanted to add it to my Oregon lighthouse checklist, I didn’t expect the pleasure of seeing Tillamook Rock Lighthouse on our trip to northern Oregon.  I had the false assumption this lighthouse was, well, near Tillamook – and our stay was significantly north of that area.  So when I bundled up against the December winds and settled at a picnic table to gaze at Haystack and Ecola Point rocks, I was surprised and delighted when I peered northwest.  There stood the lighthouse on its rocky islet!

Trails at Ecola Point offer various angles and elevations to see the glorious sights of the region, but nearly all can be seen from the picnic tables perched on the flat portion of the headland.  Fifty steps lands you at a picnic table facing the southern scene; fifty more to another featuring the lighthouse (now housing cinerary urns instead of a light) to the northwest.

Walk Details for Ecola Point picnic area
Terrain: Pavement and then hard packed grass, somewhat irregular.
Seating: A half dozen or so picnic tables spaced across the lawn.
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: 75 steps on worn pavement from nearest parking
Directions: From within Ecola State Park, follow signs to Ecola Point parking. The picnic area is on the west end of parking lot.

Ecola Point viewing deck

Extended Wheels:

Down the hill from the picnic area, a viewing deck allows southward views from the cliff’s edge.  I was content remaining at a picnic table near the parking area, but Scott further explored Ecola Point and gathered the following helpful information for those interested in a longer excursion.

  • 100 steps down broad, smooth, but fairly steep pavement reaches a picnic table for rest.
  • Another 125 steps accesses a bench near the viewing deck.
  • Less than 25 steps further to the deck, which includes another bench near its entrance.
  • Continuing from the viewing deck, 75 steps up a paved slope reaches a grassy patch with a couple more picnic tables.
  • The trail continues to the point and a second viewing deck with a great view of the lighthouse and other westward sights, but it is a long, rolling climb without seating options.
Walk Details for Ecola Point viewing deck
Terrain: Fairly steep decline on smooth broad pavement, with last portion on somewhat uneven gravel to reach the viewing deck. The deck itself is level. Moderate incline on continuation of the paved trail to the hillside picnic area.
Seating: Picnic tables and benches along the way, as indicated above and on the destination map.
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: 75 steps on worn pavement from nearest parking
Directions: From within Ecola State Park, follow signs to Ecola Point parking. The trail to the viewing deck is clearly marked on the southwest end of parking lot.

Indian Beach picnic area

25 Steps Wheels:

Another cedar and fern forested drive leads the second scenic area of Ecola State Park.  Less windy than Ecola Point, the seascapes from the bluff-top picnic area at Indian Beach are comprised of large rocks of varied shapes scattered within the rolling surf.  I find it interesting how it is the viewpoints that include rocks that draw the crowds, and are considered more spectacular than simply the open ocean.  It’s like the mind cannot comprehend the vastness of the nearly endless sea, and needs something more finite on which to fixate.  Well, rock formations abound to the south of Indian Beach.

Walk Details for Indian Beach picnic area
Terrain: Pavement and grass to reach the picnic tables. Stairs at the west end of the parking area lead to a rocky beach. Photos make it appear there is sand when the tide is low. The beach was not a good choice for my walking ability, so I stayed at the picnic area.
Seating: Two picnic tables
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: North end of the parking lot, 50 steps on gravel from the pavement’s edge.
Directions: From within Ecola State Park, follow signs to Indian Beach parking. The picnic area is on the southwest end of parking lot.