Under the Stars near Portland

The Coast: Oswald West State Park
  |  Gorp.com
Directions : 10 miles south of Cannon Beach on U.S. 101.
Travel time : Approximately 2 hours.
Information : (800) 551-6949
Reservations : No.
Fee : $14.
Open : March through October.

This is a walk-in campground (one of the only such campgrounds on the Oregon coast), and the state kindly provides carts for you to haul all your gear down the paved trail to your campsite. That's the good news. The bad news is that the campsites are so close together that you'll likely be able to hear your neighbor in the next campsite snoring all night.

However, when you take your coffee down to the beach in the morning, you'll know it was all worth it. You can grab a seat atop the jumbled piles of driftwood logs and listen to the crash of the waves on the cobbles on the beach. Old-growth hemlocks, spruces, and western red cedars climb the steep slopes that rise directly from the beach here on Smugglers Cove, and a little stream flows through the forest to empty across the beach.

The beach here, known as Short Sands Beach, is a favorite of Oregon surfers, but even if you haven't got a board and a wetsuit, you'll find plenty to keep you busy. After exploring the tidepools at either end of the cove, you can hike north up Cape Falcon (a six-mile round-trip hike) or south to the top of Neahkahnie Mountain (a 6.6-mile round-trip hike). Both trails climb to superb views from atop windswept oceanfront cliffs. Keep an eye out for whales, and, in the meadows along the Neahkahnie Mountain Trail, watch for elk. Both of these trails are on segments of the Oregon Coast Trail.


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