Rainforest and beach collide at the park in Tillamook.
“This section of the Oregon coast is a gem. You lose some of the bustle of the crowds that you get right along Highway 101, and you can actually feel like you're out in the wilderness a little bit,” said Travis Korbe, the park ranger supervisor at Cape Lookout State Park.
The popular campground and day use area was created in 1935. Korbe took me down the nearby Cape Lookout Trail.
“Cape Lookout was formed by magma flows from Columbia River basalts that flowed out of likely a river mouth,” said Korbe. “Imagine a large river of magma that flowed out and that created this narrow headland … It sticks over two miles out to sea from the main shoreline,” he continued. “So one of the theories is it gets got its name because, look out! There's a big headland here!”
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There was a gloomy Northwest mood when we arrived at the trailhead. The morning fog was beginning to burn off as a light rain fell. Korbe embraced the fog.
“By the time you get to the end of the trail, you’ve broken out of the marine layer and you're actually in the sun," he said.
There are beautiful ocean views at every turn. Walk through old growth, and if you’re lucky, you may encounter wildlife on the trail or below.
“Multiple times, I've been out on this trail leading tour groups and I'll look down and you'll see an entire whale surface,” said Korbe.
There’s also history hidden here. A World War II plaque commemorating a 1943 B-17 crash on the cape memorializes those who died. There was one survivor.
The second half of the trail is a good spot to decide if you want to continue. Signs warn of muddy conditions due to recent rains. Korbe said the mud is present pretty much year-round because of the microclimate. Rocks and exposed tree roots make for trickier steps and be cautious is you hike with kids or leashed pets. The trail has some cliff-like sections.
At the end of the two-mile trail, you gaze out over the Pacific Ocean where whales pass during migrations. Cape Lookout is a great place to explore and unwind on the coast.
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