2.7K West Coast Treasures by katelockefirst prev 1 next last
Explore some amazing places along the west coast this summer by hiking or swimming at these beautiful locations! If you've never been to Oregon or California, this is a fantastic list to get you started on your adventures! Experience what it's like to walk through a rainforest-like canyon or jump into the clearest blue water you've ever seen! Make some summer memories in some gorgeous places!
Calabasas, California4.8 miles SW of Calabasas, California
Malibu Creek State Park has something for everyone! Just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the park features hiking, fishing, bird watching and horseback riding opportunities. There are 15 miles of streamside trail through oak and sycamore woodlands on chaparral-covered slopes. Twenty-five mile Malibu Creek in the park is the principal watercourse of the Santa Monica Mountains, from Boney Mountain to Malibu Lagoon. The park was the center of Chumash Native American life for centuries and was once used to film numerous movies and TV shows, such as Planet of the Apes and M*A*S*H.
Malibu, California2.3 miles SW of Malibu, California
Point Dume State Beach features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access. The beach is presently operated by Los Angeles County, which also operates Zuma County Beach. These facilities are noted for swimming, surfing, scuba diving, and fishing. Point Dume is a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the December to mid-April migration period.
Point Dume Beach is a great place to get away from the crazy summer crowds that flood California beaches. It still gets its fair share of visitors but is not overly crowded like many of the other beaches. It's one of the more quiet and tranquil beaches around. There is an easy hiking trail where you can hike up the to the highest point of the coastal hills and see a great view of the beach all around you. At the A fun fact: you can see Tony Stark's home from the Iron Man movie up there.
This location is a popular destination for filmmakers shooting movies, so it's not uncommon to see camera crew here.
There is very limited parking near beach access, so finding a parking spot may prove to be a hassle. Some places are free to park, others have a small parking fee. You should also expect to walk a bit after parking since there are only a few parking spots right next to the beach access point.
Chiloquin, Oregon24.5 miles NW of Chiloquin, Oregon
There's more to Crater Lake National Park than the lake itself. If you want to get away from the more popular hiking trails and scenic routes, Plaikni Falls trail is a great alternative! It is definitely one of the more remote hikes at Crater Lake. This hiking trail is extremely family friendly and wheelchair accessible for the most part. This short hike leads you to the beautiful 20-foot waterfall and Sand Creek. This area is usually teeming with wildflowers in the prime summer months.
The Plaikni Falls trail is one of the newer trails at Crater Lake. It opened in 2011 and was intended for people with limited mobility and families with young children.
Along the trail, you will be surrounded by fir and hemlock trees which provide some nice shade during the hike. Make sure to bring a camera so that you can capture the great scenery you'll see!
Roundtrip: 42 minutes / 2 miles
Elevation gain: about 180 feet
Pacific City, Oregon1.3 miles NW of Pacific City, Oregon
Cape Kiwanda is a state natural area in Pacific City, Oregon. This is a fantastic place to spend an entire afternoon! You will see magnificent views of the basalt monolith officially called, Chief Kiawanda Rock. It is commonly misnamed as the "other haystack rock" and is 90-feet higher than Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. The basalt stack got its name from a leader for the Nestucca Indian tribe. You will also see some impressive dunes and remarkable sandstone. At low tide, you can explore the sandstone at the base of the cliffs and search for fossils. The sandstone still remains due to the protection that Chief Kiawanda rock provides against the immense waves of the ocean. The Cape Kiwanda hike begins at the Pacific Avenue trailhead which is about a mile down from the cape itself. Walking along the beach you will enjoy views of the incredible monolith and the beautiful scene of the cape ahead of you. You will probably see surfers in wetsuits and some occasional kayakers. Pacific City is one of the most popular places to surf on the Oregon Coast because of its consistency.
Once you get to the base of the dune, there are two routes you can go. The lower route, and the way up the Great Dune. If you decide to hike up the Great Dune first, you can make a loop hike out of it because you can circle around the Sitka spruce trees and make your way to the lower dune by a trail through the trees once you're at the top. The lower dune goes out to the edge of the cape and provides gorgeous views of the opposite side of Cape Kiwanda. To your right, you'll be able to see Nestucca Bay. There are fences and signs that discourage visitors from getting too close to the edge of the cape due to soft cliff edges crumbling or falling off. This can happen at any time, so it's important to be careful.
You can take the trail down the lower dune to the base of Cape Kiwanda, or you can turn back and run or slide down the Great Dune. It's a very popular sandboarding or "sand sledding" spot.
Climbing up the Great Dune is somewhat of a workout. You will definitely feel the burn in your legs halfway to the top. This climb can be done with children. but they may require some assistance due to the strenuous hiking. You won't make much progress just using your feet to walk up, so it's a bit faster and easier if you use your hands and crawl up the dune. It's difficult, but definitely worth it once you reach the top!
NOTE: One of the downsides of the Cape Kiwanda area and Pacific City is that it is typically very busy and crowded.
Cannon Beach, Oregon0.6 miles SW of Cannon Beach, Oregon
Haystack Rock is a 235-foot (72-meter) sea stack in Cannon Beach, Oregon. It is sometimes claimed locally to be the third-tallest such "intertidal" structure in the world, but there are no official references to support this. A popular tourist destination, the monolithic rock is adjacent to the beach and accessible by foot at low tide. The Haystack Rock tide pools are home to many intertidal animals, including starfish, sea anemone, crabs, chitons, limpets, and sea slugs. The rock is also a nesting site for many sea birds, including terns and puffins.
Visitors to Haystack Rock can view many species of marine wildlife in their natural habitat during low tide. The thin strip of rock and sand that connects it to the beach at these times features many tide pools. The area surrounding the rock is popular for picnicking, kite-flying, and bird-watching. Artists and photographers can be found capturing the beauty of Haystack Rock on canvas or on film.Courtesy of Wikipedia.com
Crater Lake National Park4.6 miles N of Crater Lake National Park
Wizard Island is one of the most interesting features of Crater Lake itself! It's considered one of the most magnificent volcanic cinder cones in the world. Take a boat tour to the island and experience its grandeur while hiking the Wizard Island Summit Trail! At the top, you will find the crater named Witches Cauldron.
Created by a violent eruption of Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago, Wizard Island is located at the west end of Crater Lake. Although there are other cinder cones in the lake, Wizard Island is the only one to reach above the surface. The island rises about 755-feet above the lake.
The only way to get to the island is to hike down the Cleetwood Cove trail to the dock for boat tours. It's a 45-minute boat ride to Wizard Island where the trail to the summit begins. The beginning of the trail is very rocky with lava rock, but after about 10 minutes, the trail smooths out. The hike is about 2.5 miles total, which takes you around the 400-foot wide crater at the top.
Round trip: 4.5 miles
Elevation gain: about 765-feet
NOTE: There is a fee for the boat tour.
Cloverdale, Oregon10.2 miles NW of Cloverdale, Oregon
Cape Lookout State Park has multiple hiking trails. This trail is among one of the more popular ones because it leads you to the steep cliffs which provide gorgeous views of the ocean and adjacent cliffs. Cape Lookout is also one of the prime locations for whale watching. Some have even said they've seen sea lions and orcas from the capes.
This slightly downhill trail is typically muddy and can be slippery at times. There are boardwalks in some of the really bad areas.
This is a beautiful hike that goes through the lush, green, coastal forest. Sometimes the trail can be a bit crowded depending on when you go.
Elevation gain: about 400 ft
Roundtrip: about 5.0 miles
NOTE: There is a $5 fee to use Cape Lookout State Park. AND MAKE SURE TO HOLD ON TO LITTLE ONES AT THE END OF THE TRAIL SO THEY DON'T FALL OFF THE 400 FT CLIFF.
Muir Beach, California0.3 miles E of Muir Beach, California
Muir Beach is a little gem nestled away in the hills North of San Francisco, not far from the Muir Woods National Monument. There's a great beach and an entire network of trails. To get to the beach is a delightful 0.2 miles along a bridge and sandy pathway. You'll find plenty of informational placards along the way, great for kids, or even the mildly curious adult.
Once you're here, you can sit and enjoy the beach, get started on the Coastal Trail, explore along the cliffside trails to the south, or simply enjoy a picnic at the tables near the parking lot while you take in the beautiful sunset over the Pacific.
Government Camp, Oregon1.8 miles W of Government Camp, Oregon
This family-friendly hiking trail leads to the beautiful Mirror Lake. It gets the name because it reflects Mount Hood in the still, glacier cirque lake. You will walk through a dense forest and have multiple opportunities to see excellent views of Mount Hood!
Although this is a heavily used trail due to its popularity and trailhead convenience next to the highway, Mirror Lake and the other Mt. Hood views are a MUST-SEE! You'll definitely want to bring a camera for the picturesque scenery!
Once you get to the lake, you can choose to take the loop around the lake which would make a longer hike, or you can just turn back and return the way you came.
Roundtrip: about 3.2 miles (with loop)
Elevation gain: about 700 ft
Mount Washington, Oregon9.4 miles W of Mount Washington, Oregon
The Tamolitch Pool, also known as the Blue Pool, is the one and only pool of its kind in Oregon. The name "Tamolitch", meaning 'bucket', was given to this gorgeous basin by the Northwest Indians. This pool is created by the Mckenzie River which seeps through underground lava fields for two miles before emerging to the surface. As the river water seeps up from the porous lava, it gives the water in the pool a unique turquoise color and amazing clarity! This mesmerizing, clear blue water attracts many hikers, mountain bikers, and photographers. Despite the water that gushes out of the pool and returns to the Mckenzie River, the pool is so still and calm that it gives the illusion of a glass surface. This pool has become a popular place for photographers of all skill levels. It has gotten more recognition because of exposure on social media from visitors. The Tamolitch and McKenzie River trail are heavily used and have gained more and more visitors over the last few years.
It is not against the rules to jump into Tamolitch Pool. However, extreme caution is advised. Due to the clarity of the pool, those who jump in cannot make an accurate estimate of where the shallow areas are. The steep cliffs that surround the basin range from 10 - 60 feet. The water stays a chilly 30-some degrees all year round. Please jump from the cliffs at your own discretion.
The McKenzie River Trail is 26 miles if you hike the entire trail. To get to the "Blue Pool" is about 2 miles from the Tamolitch trail head. This hike is very scenic with great views of the McKenzie River with many photo opportunities along the way. The hike to Tamolitch is relatively easy with a well-maintained trail. The first part of the hike will be fairly flat but gets very rocky and a bit more steep the further you go. You will be able to see stunning views of the river from above as you hike.
Once you get to the pool, you can stand at the top of the cliffs and look down into the blue basin, or you can clamber down the steep lava rocks to the edge of the pool. On the other side of the pool, there is a way to get to the water's edge that isn't as steep.
NOTE: Although people do jump into the pool, it can be very risky. Many people have been injured and a few have even died by jumping in.
To the pool: about 2 miles
Cascade Locks, Oregon10.5 miles SW of Cascade Locks, Oregon
This unique hike is one of the many incredible experiences you can have in Oregon! It is located near Horsetail Falls which is another great hike to add on to this one if you would prefer a more lengthy outdoor excursion. You will definitely want to bring some water sandals and maybe an extra set of clothes for this adventure!
As soon as you reach the "trailhead" you will soon figure out that there isn't a designated trail for this hike. You will be required to climb over a log jam, tread through chest deep water (which can be quite cold at times), and hike through a narrow canyon over loose river rock and smooth pebbles covering the creek bed. Once you are in the gorge and see the moss and lichen covered rock towering above you, you'll feel as if you have gone to another world. There is something so surreal about walking through this mossy, green slot canyon adorned with ferns. It's like looking at a scene from a movie.
This hike is not for the faint of heart due to it being a bit challenging and strenuous. You won't be able to avoid getting wet during this hike and the water is typically fairly chilly!
It is also advised that you don't bring along small children unless you plan on carrying them. This would not be considered a family friendly hike.
NOTE: Depending on the time of year and your height, the water could be deeper or shallower than stated in the description.
TIP: To avoid the crowds, go sometime during the week rather than on the weekends. Going in the morning could also help you to avoid the rush of people who go later in the day when it gets warmer.
Orick, California7.9 miles N of Orick, California
Fern Canyon is one of the best 1-mile hikes that you can do in California! This unforgettable location was featured in Steven Spielberg's film, Jurassic Park: The Lost World.
Fern Canyon is located in Prairie Creek Redwoods. It's not incredibly easy to find, but the remote 8-mile drive will be worth seeing this fern laden paradise. Two stream crossings will need to be done by car, but one of these streams can be about 6 inches deep. If you don't think your car can make it, you'll just have to park and walk an extra mile.
Since this drive is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, you may see a lot of wildlife. You will most likely see a lot of elk on this drive so it's important to drive slowly on the dirt road. Also be aware of potholes along the road.
The drive is the most difficult part of this trip, so the hike is going to be a piece of cake in comparison. There is a parking lot with a vault toilet and a sign giving information about the area. The level trail begins at the top of the parking lot and leads you through a small, moss-covered forest before you reach the canyon. Be prepared to get wet during your hike because you will have to cross more streams. Don't try to find a way around the water and just have fun with it. Since the trail is relatively flat, this hike is a perfect, fun adventure for those with small children. There are a few wooden foot bridges here and there to cross some of the streams, but it is probable you will get your feet wet at some point.
Once you reach the canyon, you will have 50-foot canyon walls towering over you. These walls have lush, green plants cascading down the sides and there are fallen redwood trees, green with moss. You will possibly have to climb over or under a few logs. Along the canyon walls, there are some little waterfalls and streams that trickle down through the foliage. You will feel as if you are walking through a rainforest in Fern Canyon. No wonder a scene from the Jurassic Park movie was filmed here!
Going through the canyon itself is only about a half a mile, but the trail continues on and flattens out again into a forest. You can hike the whole loop trail or you can go back the way you came if you want to experience the canyon again (who wouldn't?).
Make sure you add this magical place to your list of places to see!
NOTE: Leave early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Bring water shoes or sandals.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon8.8 miles NE of Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Cleetwood Cove trail leads to the Wizard Island boat tour dock as well as a popular cliff jumping spot in Crater Lake National Park. This is the only legal and safe place for visitors to access the shoreline of Crater Lake. Hiking the trail to the shoreline is quite steep and difficult. It is a switchback trail that shouldn’t be attempted by those with heart conditions or other health problems. The hike is considered strenuous and is about an hour and a half to the shoreline, and can take over two hours on the way back.
This trail provides gorgeous views of the lake and is primarily used for hiking and trail running. It's advised to wear water sandals if you plan on going in the water because there is sharp volcanic rock along the shoreline.
NOTE: The ledge to jump off of is about 20 feet above the water. The average temperature for Crater Lake is about 38 degrees but can warm up to around 50 degrees in the summer.
Sublimity, Oregon7.6 miles NE of Sublimity, Oregon
Silver Falls State Park is a forested canyon that features 10 amazing waterfalls throughout the park. It is the largest state park in Oregon and one of the most popular, both nationally and internationally. People come from all over to witness the beauty of these splendid waterfalls at this unique and amazing park. It's less than an hour east of the Salem state capital in the green foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
At the South Falls, you can walk in awe behind a 177-foot waterfall. It's a part of the Trail of Ten Falls which is a breathtaking and nationally recognized hiking trail. This trail winds through lush, dense forested landscape and along a canyon where you will see many gorgeous waterfalls from different vantage points. You descend the trail following a serpentine creek to the forest floor. Photographers of all skill levels love to come to Silver Falls to capture the picturesque, scenic views it has to offer.
The full loop to hike all 10 waterfalls is about 7.2 miles and is considered a moderate hike with an elevation change of 800 feet. There are connecting trails that can make the hike shorter if one so desires. The park provides over 25 miles of backcountry trails for the outdoor enthusiast to enjoy.
Besides hiking, many visitors enjoy mountain biking, horseback riding, as well as camping at Silver Falls. The campground has tent and RV sites as well as cabins. If you bring a horse, there is a horse campground for you to stay at. There are also group tent and RV sites for larger groups and ranches that can sleep 75 people in dormitory-style bunkhouses.
The South Falls Day Use Area has open lawns, picnic tables, and shelters, barbecue stands, a playground, horseshoe pits, and an off-leash area for dogs. This area is frequently used for potlucks, family reunions, and even weddings.
(No pets are allowed on the Canyon Trail for everyone's safety. Pets on a leash can be on all other trails)
A $3-per-car fee is charged to park anywhere in the state park.
NOTE: It's important to remember that bears and cougars live in the more remote areas of the park.
Yosemite National Park9.2 miles S of Yosemite National Park
The mist trail is a small breakoff from the John Muir Trail through Yosemite National Park. It's called the mist trail because of the heavy amount of mist that hikers walk through as Vernal and Nevada Falls crash hundreds of feet below. The hike is short as for horizontal distance traveled but the incline will give you a run for your money. You'll ascend 639 stone stairs to reach the top of Vernal Falls. There's a waterfall in between the two that is a sight all it's own but is often forgotten because of the behemoths on either side. The hike between the falls is a nice break as it is fairly flat relative to the rest of the trail. Once you get to the base of Nevada Falls, you'll have to take switchbacks up the giant cliffs to the top.
These waterfalls are usually the last to dry up around Yellowstone Village. Whether you just love waterfalls or you want a closer view of Halfdome, Whitecap, or Mt. Broderick, the Mist Trail definitely offers world class views. There are bathroom facilities just above Vernal Falls and water just before you start to ascend the stairs. There's another trail that is less steep but that skips Vernal Falls.
|Vernal Fall Bridge||0.8 miles||400 ft|
|Top of Vernal Falls||1.5 miles||1100 ft|
|Top of Nevada Falls||3.4 miles||2230 ft|
Mill Valley, California1.9 miles W of Mill Valley, California
There are several suggested hikes on the main trail leaving from the visitors center. The longest, a loop, is about 2 miles. It is the only one that leaves the boardwalk. It has some elevation gain. The others areally flat, with a boardwalk taking you to trees with signs explaining their significance. There is a lot of information posted around to inform curious minds, as well as some guided tours and programs from children. There are several other trails leaving or passing through this area, for those looking for a longer hike.