Backpacking and Camping the Oregon Coast
Travel Tips

Backpacking and Camping the Oregon Coast

On summer weekends, almost every campground in Oregon is reserved days in advance. One alternative to the crowds is Hiker’s Camp at Ecola State Park. At the summit of a short, steep 1.5 mile trail, Hiker’s Camp features a communal fire pit, three rustic shelters with wooden bunks, and a secluded view of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

Numerous clearings behind the communal areas are available for tent camping.

Hiker’s Camp is the perfect resource for a rugged beach weekend. Beginner backpackers and families with children will both be able to enjoy the challenging, but short trek to the top. Surfers can stake out Indian Beach without waiting in line. And at $5 per day, Hiker’s Camp is the most thrifty accomodation in Cannon Beach.

To reach Ecola State Park, take Highway 101 to the Fir Street exit at the north end of Cannon Beach. Take the first right at 5th Street, and then the next right to Ecola Park Road.

Once in the park, follow signs for Indian Beach to reach the Clatsop Loop trailhead. As a courtesy, the park service asks that you do not park in stalls facing the ocean at Indian Beach.

One more word of caution, the road through the park is narrow with blind hills and corners. Keep to your side of the road and watch out for pedestrians!

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Day passes are required and can be purchased with cash or credit card at the gate. If the attendent is unavailable write “Hiker’s Camp” at the top of each pass to let the park rangers know you are staying overnight. Checkout is at 1pm.

Parking is limited during peak hours, and local authorities will only admit as many cars as there are spaces available. Arrive in early morning or early evening hours to avoid the beach rush.

At Indian Beach, take either leg of the Clatsop Loop trail to Hiker’s Camp.

The service road is a direct climb to Hiker’s Camp. There are no views of the ocean from this leg, but the road is stable with few to no potholes.

The other leg of the Clatsop Loop trail is a meandering dirt trail through thick underbrush and often muddy. The uneven terrain can be a slipping hazard. Numerous spurs lead away from the main trail and head towards the ocean. Some, but not all, of these cliff-side vistas are protected by vegetation or simple wire barriers. Approach with caution!

A free brochure with a map is available at the trailhead. The brochure includes a brief history of the Clatsop Loop as a route established by Native Americans and the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s search for a beached whale.

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