Incredible Coastal Views from Cape Perpetua’s Stone Shelter

Looking down on Cape Perpetua proper from near the Stone Shelter, Oregon

Looking down on Cape Perpetua proper from near the Stone Shelter

Cape Perpetua is a great place to visit.  Thor’s Well and the surrounding volcanic tide pools and other oddities make it a must-do stop on a US-101 road trip.  But I found the most remarkable – or at least the most beautiful – part of Cape Perpetua to be the views from the stone shelter atop the headland above the park proper.  The Pacific Ocean, headland upon headland, a winding highway, misty mountains, whale sightings – need I say more?

Thor's Well is the white hole in the lava flow to the right of the light-colored sand. If you zoom in on the picture, you can see people still gathered around the well. Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Thor’s Well is the white hole in the lava flow to the right of the light-colored sand. If you zoom in on the picture, you can see people still gathered around the well.

You can drive or hike to the top of the headland (hiking is via the Saint Perpetua Trail, about 4 mile RT from the visitor center).  Because it was getting late in the day, we opted to drive the steep paved road and park in the small parking area.  As an added benefit, there are primitive restrooms and a few picnic tables (a great place to eat dinner and glue my hiking boot, which the sole had begun to separate from earlier in the morning).

Mountains inland of Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Mountains inland of Cape Perpetua

From the parking area, head down the trail a short distance to a viewing area.  This gives the best view down on the rest of the park and is a reason in itself to stop by Cape Perpetua.

Views from the first viewpoint atop the headland at Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Views from the first viewpoint

For another view (and maybe some whale sightings – in August we saw a few), continue down the trail known as the “Whispering Spruce Trail” (not toward the visitor center).  About 0.1 miles from the first viewing area, the trail will split, with a “shelter” option and a “loop” option.  You can go either direction (it really is a loop); I followed the path left toward the shelter.

A whale spouts out at sea near Cape Perpetua, Oregon

A whale spouts out at sea. None of us had seen a whale before that day, so it was just a wee bit exciting 🙂

 

Arrive at the Stone Shelter a tenth of a mile later.  The views here are more out to the ocean, but the shelter is interesting to look at, too – built by the CCC’s in the 1930s, you can see about 70 miles out to sea from here, and therefore it was used as an observation post during WWII, complete with a coastal defense gun.  Today it’s just a fun place to hang out and look at the ocean or down on the rest of the park.

Inside the Stone Shelter at Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Inside the Stone Shelter

Complete the loop by exiting the Stone Shelter via its other entrance and following the trail back to the parking lot (don’t follow the Amanda Trail, which goes down the headland toward Yachats).

Looking south from the Stone Shelter, Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Looking south from the Stone Shelter

Overall, this isn’t a long trail (about 0.5 miles RT), but it offers some truly incredible scenery, and I’d have to say you shouldn’t leave Cape Perpetua without seeing the view!

Lava flows in Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Lava flows in Cape Perpetua proper

Round Trip Trail Length: About 0.5 miles

Elevation Change: 56ft. (810ft. at the trailhead to 754ft. at the Stone Shelter)

Facilities: Primitive restrooms and picnic tables; the visitor center in the main section of the park has more facilities

Fees: $5 per vehicle per day.  Northwest Forest Passes & Interagency Passes also accepted

Trail Notes: If it’s a nice day, just do it!  You won’t regret the views.  Oh, but you might want to keep a firm hand on young children, as there are some drop-offs near the viewpoints.

Another (or is it the same?) whale near Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Another (or is it the same?) whale

Trail ★★★★☆

Road ★★★★☆

Signs ★★★★☆

Scenery ★★★★★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The trail down to the Churn looks pretty incredible from above, Cape Perpetua, Oregon

The trail down to the Churn looks pretty incredible from above

Key GPS Coordinates for the Cape Perpetua Headland

Shelter Trail Beginning: 44.28688N / -124.10800W (44° 17′ 12.7674″ / -124° 6′ 28.8000″) (810ft.) (0.0; return 0.52)

Shelter Viewpoint #1: 44.28662N / -124.10831W (44° 17′ 11.8314″ / -124° 6′ 29.9160″) (797ft.) (200ft.)

Shelter Loop Trail Junction: 44.28695N / -124.10937W (44° 17′ 13.0194″ / -124° 6′ 33.7314″) (776ft.) (0.14; returned 0.40)

CCC Stone Shelter: 44.28750N / -124.11000W (754ft.) (0.20)

Amanda Trail Junction: 44.28750N / -124.10930W (44° 17′ 15.0000″ / -124° 6′ 33.4800″) (770ft.) (0.3)

Views out to sea from the Stone Shelter, Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Views out to sea from the Stone Shelter

The gpx file for this part of Cape Perpetua’s Headland 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: 18.5 KB Downloaded 11 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!)

Views of the rest of Cape Perpetua from near the Stone Shelter, Oregon

Views of the rest of Cape Perpetua from near the Stone Shelter

Getting to Cape Perpetua

From Yachats, OR, drive south on US-101S about 2.7 miles.  Turn left following the brown signs that indicate “Cape Perpetua Day Use and Campground”.  Immediately continue left, uphill, when the road splits.  You will be driving on NFD-55.  Stay on the paved road 1.7 miles to the parking area for the “Lookout”.

Tide pools in the lava flows, Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Tide pools in the lava flows

Or from Florence, OR, drive north on US-101N 22.3 miles, passing by the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center.  Turn right following the brown signs that indicate “Cape Perpetua Day Use and Campground”.  Immediately continue left, uphill, when the road splits.  You will be driving on NFD-55.  Stay on the paved road 1.7 miles to the parking area for the “Lookout”.

Visual trail map of my stroll along the top of the headland above Cape Perpetua to the Stone Shelter, Oregon

Visual trail map of my stroll along the top of the headland above Cape Perpetua to the Stone Shelter

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Variations::

 

Fog

Tuesday

Tue Jun 27

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Areas of fog early, becoming sunny this afternoon. High near 60F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

Partly Cloudy

Wednesday

Wed Jun 28

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Partly cloudy skies. High 61F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

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Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 63F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

Clear

Friday

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A few passing clouds, otherwise generally sunny. High 64F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

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Sat Jul 01

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4 thoughts on “Incredible Coastal Views from Cape Perpetua’s Stone Shelter

  1. Pingback: Cape Perpetua: Where the Volcanos Met the Ocean - Anne's Travels

  2. Pingback: Sneak Peak: A Land of Volcanos and Oceans - Anne's Travels

  3. Ashley

    This is beautiful! I have a daughter that lives in Portland, OR and is an avid hiker like myself. I’m sending her your post. She would really like to do this!