A very scenic hike along the northern Oregon Coast. The trail is a 5.4 miles out and back, with 900' of elevation loss. There is also an optional trail of Cascade Head's Upper Trail, that is a 2 mile round trip with 160' of elevation loss. Both hikes are featured on page 86 in the Third Edition of the popular William L. Sullivan guidebook, "100 Hikes and Travel Guide for the Oregon Coast & Coast Range".
Trail Details: Cascade Head Upper Trail at the Nature Conservancy is 2 miles, with 160' of elevation loss and is rated as easy. Harts Cove is 5.4 miles, with 900' of elevation loss and is rated as moderate.
Driving Directions: From the junction with HWY 18, just north of Lincoln City, drive north 4 miles on HWY 101. Just before a crest, turn left on gravel Cascade Head Road 1861, marked by a yellow gate that is closed to vehicles January 1 to July 15. After 3.2 miles, a guardrail on the left marks the easy, upper trailhead to the Nature Conservancy preserve on Cascade Head. Continue 0.9 miles on Road 1861 to the trailhead at the road's end for Harts Cove. Harts Cove is just over 120 miles from Best Buy, using I-5 to HWY 22, through Salem, and over to Lincoln City, before heading a bit north. Travel time is estimated at 2 hours and 41 minutes, thanks to MapQuest. Round trip will be 240 miles, so please be willing to chip in $15 to $20 to the drivers for gas and wear and tear of their vehicles. Thank you.
Pets are banned on the Nature Conservancy trail.
The Harts Cove Trail starts out by switchbacking downhill through a young coastal forest. Railroad tie steps here help make footing better. Very little light reaches the forest floor and undergrowth is sparse. Evidence of logging is plentiful with very large stumps common. After about half a mile, you'll cross Cliff Creek Bridge. The creek seems to mark the boundary between the second growth forest and the old growth. Some of these trees are over 250 years old. After a while, you'll come out onto a point with your first view of Harts Cove. The trail turns eastward and enters the drainage of Chitwood Creek. You'll pass under a particularly threatening looking blowdown that didn't quite reach the ground. As interesting as the trees, standing and fallen, are, the real highlight of this hike is the open meadow that comes next. This entire area is closed in the spring, but flowers bloom here well into August. Look for lupine and violets mixed in with other plant life. The trail circles back to the south a bit and offers a beautiful view of Harts Cove, including a waterfall as Chitwood Creek cascades into the Pacific. Most of us will probably be content with the meadow and the views, but there is a steep, rugged trail to a spot near the water.
We will meet at Best Buy at 8:00AM to set up carpooling. We will leave shortly after, but no later than 8:30AM, so please be on time. Please bring a small backpack with a lunch, water, and gear needed for a day hike. Cash for the drivers and a possible stop at a restaurant afterwards is highly encouraged. Round trip will be 240 miles, so please be willing to chip in $15 to $20 to the drivers for gas and wear and tear of their vehicles. Thank you.
Hope to see you on the trail.