Probably one of the more well-known icons of the northern Oregon Coast is Haystack Rock, located near the town of Cannon Beach. I’d read about a nice little beach stroll from the town to the rock, so I thought I’d check it out one misty morning in early August last summer. As it turns out, there are shorter ways to get to Haystack Rock, but hey, who doesn’t like a good beach walk with a few dozen other tourists?
The first challenge was finding the right parking lot. There are definitely public parking spots; however, my directions from the internet were less than helpful, and finding one’s way around Cannon Beach is no joke (even in the early morning before the tourists get up). I finally found it via GPS coordinates on the corner of N Spruce Street and E 2nd Street on the more northerly end of the town (it’s on a bit of an island, hemmed in by the ocean to the west, the river to the north, and US 101 to the east, and lack of roads to the south, so it’s hard to get too lost). One of the good things about this parking area is that there are public restrooms right next door!
We walked up 2nd Street and about 1/10th of a mile later were at a public beach access. We walked down the steps, turned left, and set off south, down the beach. BTW, this Haystack Rock shouldn’t be confused with Haystack Rock down by Cape Kiwanda – down there, they should have just kept the name Chief Kiwanda Rock and have saved everyone a little confusion!
One of the great things about starting here is that you don’t have to cross Ecola Creek, which is a good-sized river once it meets the sand. The beach access is just south of the river.
We walked south. It was early yet, so there weren’t too many tourists – maybe a few dozen. It was also low tide, and the wide open sand tidal flats were shining wet without a trace of human footprints. We walked on them, but then there were really cool lines of footprints. The reflection of Haystack Rock, the sky and clearing mist, and the footprints made for some really epic pictures.
Another epic picture opportunity was when a group rode horses down the beach – again, the reflections were so cool!
The closer we got to Haystack Rock, the more crowded the beach became. I’m not trying to complain, but I had just spent nearly a week touring the coast, and (outside of the highway and an occasional town) I don’t think I’d seen so many people the entire time. So it was a bit of a shock to be around so many people after so long in the wilderness.
At the rock itself there were a number of interpreters, not to mention many, many photographers with massive telephoto lenses taking pictures of the wildlife. One set of volunteers had set up a high-powered scope and trained it on a puffin’s nest. How cool was that? I’d never seen a puffin before!
We explored the tide pools for a bit and I took pictures of the nearby sea stacks (because they’re cooler than sea life, right? – not) then we walked a bit beyond to find a little peace and quiet to have an early lunch. By the time we got back to the beach access near Ecola Creek, the tourists had increased about a dozen fold. I’m glad they were having such a good time… and glad I was heading north to Ecola State Park for a little more peace and quiet!
Round Trip Trail Length: About 3 miles
Net Elevation Chang: 23ft. (13ft. at the beach access to -10ft. at Haystack Rock)
Facilities: Public restrooms at the parking area. Lots of shops, restaurants, and more in Cannon Beach.
Fees: None. Even parking was free!
Trail Notes: For a shorter walk, try parking at Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site about 45.872650, -123.960781. Walk north about 1 mile to Haystack Rock. Or you might be able to find something a little south of where we parked, find a public beach access, and go from there. How close you can get to Haystack Rock and the tide pools will depend on the time, tide, and storm conditions. We arrived as the tide was coming back in from an exceptionally low tide – we chatted with a volunteer who was very surprised at some of the sea stacks we’d simply walked around earlier in the morning (namely at Arcadia Beach).
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
Key GPS Coordinates for Haystack Rock
We Parked: 45.897999N / -123.959452W (45° 53′ 52.7958″ / -123° 57′ 34.0266″)
Trail beginning: 45.89796N / -123.95963W (45° 53′ 52.6554″ / -123° 57′ 34.6680″) (13ft.) (0.0; ended 3.05)
Cannon Beach Access: 45.89822N / -123.96260W (45° 53′ 53.5920″ / -123° 57′ 45.3594″) (3ft.) (0.18)
Haystack Rock: 45.88464N / -123.96692W (45° 53′ 4.7034″ / -123° 58′ 0.9120″) (-10ft.) (1.28)
The gpx file for Haystack Rock can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.
Download GPX File size: 47.8 KB Downloaded 4 times
(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website. Thanks!)
Getting to Cannon Beach / Haystack Rock Parking Area
From Astoria, OR, drive south on US-101S 21 miles. Take the Exit toward City Center and Ecola State Park. At the bottom of the exit ramp, continue straight (the road will simply merge). After crossing the river about 0.3 miles later, the road (formally Fir Street) will change names to E 3rd Street; continue another few feet to the T. Turn left on N Spruce Street for 0.2 miles. Cross E 2nd and take the next left into the parking area.
From Tillamook, OR, drive north on US-101N 40 miles. Turn right following signs for Cannon Beach City Center and Ecola State Park. After 0.4 miles, turn right onto S Hemlock Street, then drive 0.6 miles and turn right on E 1st Avenue; at the T turn left onto N Spruce Street 0.1 miles; turn right into the parking area.
This Week’s Featured Product!
With good maps and focusing on only the northern part of the Oregon Coast, this guide suggests a shorter day hikes – less than 7 miles RT.
Thu Aug 17
Partly cloudy skies. High 66F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.
Fri Aug 18
Cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. High 67F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph.
Sat Aug 19
Partly cloudy. High near 65F. Winds NNW at 15 to 25 mph.
Sun Aug 20
Cloudy skies early will become partly cloudy later in the day. High 66F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.
Mon Aug 21
Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 66F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.