"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." Bilbo Baggins

PNW 2023 Part 4 – North Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach

As we continued north on our journey up the Oregon coast we made one last stop, Cannon Beach.  Our plan here was to enjoy one of the largest beaches in Oregon and try out some of the many restaurants in this small vacation resort town.  Just a short 100 miles north of Newport, the coast here is vastly different, as it is mainly made up of long, sandy beaches.  The weather so far has been wonderful.  Lows in the mid 50s for open window sleeping weather, and highs in the upper 60’s low 70’s with clear blue skies for hiking and touring.  We hoped it would continue.  Spoiler alert: it did.

The town of Cannon Beach was originally established back in 1898 after a carronade (a short, smoothbore, cast iron naval cannon) was found buried in the sand nearby. The cannon broke free of the USS Shark’s deck during a shipwreck at the mouth of the Columbia River on September 10, 1846.  It is famous for Haystack Rock, a 235 ft sea stack that juts out along the coast.  It is also famous as one of the western most points of the Lewis and Clark expedition, more on that later.  It is a very quaint and artsy town with a main street lined with nice shops and restaurants.

We stayed at the Cannon Beach RV Resort, less than half a mile from town which made for easy walking distance to the city center and beach.  We walked in almost every day for one reason or another.  Not only was it good exercise to counteract all the food we ate, but parking was tough and walking avoided that issue.

With tide ebbs and flows of 9 feet between low and high tide, and relatively level beaches, the Oregon coastal areas are flush with tide pools and Cannon Beach is no exception.  The rocks and shoreline around Haystack Rock are noted for their excellent examples of tide pools.  We were up early, just after sunrise, and walked over to the beach to see the tide pools at low tide.  We were not disappointed.  There were Starfish, Anemone, Barnacles, and even a rare Sea Lemon Nudibranck.  We were fascinated.  We were back by the same area at high tide and the water was at least 6 feet deep where were were standing that previous morning.

While we were at Haystack Rock there was a group of volunteers with telescopes monitoring and observing the sea birds.  One of the rare ones to see is a Tufted Puffin.  They had their telescopes trained on a pair and we were able to see them at their burrow.  The Tufted Puffin is the one with the orange beak.

We did manage to take a couple of hikes.  The first was in Ecola State Park along the Clatsop Loop Trail.  Members of the Lewis and Clark expedition walked this trail in 1806 in search of a beached whale.  Amazing to think we were walking the same trail they did. The hike took us on a climb to an overlook to see Tillamook Lighthouse.  It was a cool, overcast day and as we climbed, we started to enter a coastal fog bank.  Near the top is a hiker’s camp for thru-hikers on the Oregon Coast Trail.  Very nice with shelters and a pavilion.  Once at the top, it was so foggy, we could hardly see the proverbial hand in front of our face, let alone the lighthouse.  The hike back was through the same coastal forest and as we descended, the fog lifted and we had some great views of the coast and the lighthouse.  We even saw and heard a group of sea lions albeit at a distance.

Our second hike was south of Cannon Beach in Oswald State Park.  Cape Falcon overlooks Short Sand Beach, a surfers hangout.  The loop trail took us up about 600 ft through thick, Sitka Spruce forest and along the coast to the cape overlook.  The last quarter mile was through some tall shrubs, taller than we are.  It was like being in a natural hedge maze.  The views were incredible.

We also made a stop at the Tillamook Lighthouse viewpoint.  It is a part of Ecola State Park and has views of not only the light house but also of Crescent Beach and Cannon Beach and its Haystack Rock.  The area is also famous as a filming location for some classic old movies.  The “Goonies” filmed a lot of their coast scenes here and “Kindergarten Cop” filmed a school outdoor fair here.

Tillamook Lighthouse is out on a small rock on its own.  It is nicknamed “Terrible Tilly”, for the rough seas and terrible weather.  It has long been out of commission, since 1934, but is still standing out on the island all alone.  You can also see it from Cannon Beach as well as at the previously mentioned fogged in lookout.

Being so close to the beach, we took a few morning walks along the beach.  The beach runs from Arch Cape to Crescent Beach, a distance of over 7 miles.  It is wide, expansive, and flat.  On one of our walks, we saw some sand castles and sculptures. Cannon Beach has a big sand castle competition each year in June.  Most of walks also involved a stop at local coffees shops as well.

As I mentioned, Cannon Beach is also known for its restaurants and we felt it our duty to sample some.  We tried two local Coffee Places: Insomnia and Sleepy Monk.  Both were good.  Both had 20-30 minutes lines and both tasted extra good on our beach walks.  We managed to get in some fresh seafood, crab and halibut, at Ecola Seafoods.  There is a local brewery, Public Coast, where we had probably our best meal (and beer).  I even took home a 6-pack for later in the trip.  One of the fun places we ate is a combined hardware store and tavern.  Its official name is Cannon Beach Hardware & Public House, but its common name is “Screw & Brew”.  Our indulgence was The Chocolate Café.  They make their own chocolate and put it in a homemade milk shake, which tasted wonderful as our treat after one of our hikes.

Insomnia Coffee

Sleepy Monk Coffee

Ecola Seafood

Public Coast Brewery

Screw and Brew

Chocolate Cafe

Cannon Beach was the perfect last stop for us on our journey up the Oregon Coast and it will definitely be a repeat visit for us in the future.

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