How to Walk Seaside, Oregon
4 favorite places to take strides in and around Seaside
By Shellie Bailey-Shah
One of the best ways to take in Seaside’s natural beauty is to explore the beaches, forests and nearby mountains. The sheer variety of trails in and around town means you have plenty of options, from kid-friendly strolls on the Prom to more strenuous climbs with stunning views. Don’t know where to start? Here are four favorite hikes for you to choose from.
1. For young kids
Yes, the walk along Seaside’s Promenade is more of an amble than a hike, but it’s a longstanding family favorite. The 1.5-mile walkway is completely paved, so it’s easy for pushing strollers. Start your walk just before sunset so that you can appreciate those stunning ocean views.
2. For nature lovers
The Mill Ponds Trail (also known as Chapman Ponds) provides hikers with excellent opportunities to view wildlife. The trail is flat and less than a mile in length, making it an easy outing for families. Part of the Neawanna Creek watershed, this nature area encompasses two ponds: one freshwater and the other tidal-influenced. It’s home to various species of mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects, but the big draw is the birds.
In the spring, colorful, neo-tropical migrants—including Wilson’s warblers, orange-crowned warblers and warbling vireos—feed here on their travels along the Pacific Flyway. In the winter, you’ll find sparrows in addition to migrant Harlequin and wood ducks. Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of ospreys, a favorite among birders here. Speaking of birder preferences, it’s good courtesy to leave the dog at home for this trek so the birds don’t get intimidated.
3. For lighthouse views
The Tillamook Head Trail affords hikers glimpses of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, also known as “Terrible Tilly.” The lighthouse sits atop a rock formation a little more than a mile off of Tillamook Head. Tilly’s light guided sailors for 77 years until it was officially decommissioned in 1957.
You’ll have to work for those stunning coastal views! Rated as a moderately difficult hike, the entire trail to Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach is 6.3 miles with an elevation gain of 1,126 feet, but of course, you’ll need to hike back, too. Or you could just go as far as the highest point, where you’ll find a lonely tree sitting on top of a rock face.
Much of the hike is in a deep coastal forest. On a hot summer day, you’ll appreciate the shade. When you arrive at the lighthouse viewpoint, stop a moment, close your eyes and listen. In the distance, you’ll likely hear barking from the sea lion colony that inhabits Tilly’s rock.
Friendly Tip: If you aren’t up for the long hike, the lighthouse is visible from the Ecola State Park parking lot; it’s just a bit more of a distant view.
4. For burning calories
Recommended for experienced hikers, the Saddle Mountain Trail offers expansive views on a clear day.
Most of the hike is below tree line and consists of switchbacks that climb 1,615 feet to the top. Along the way, you’ll find a few viewpoints with picnic tables. The final quarter-mile is steep and exposed to the wind and sun. Take your time to appreciate the wildflowers that grow along this section of the trail.
At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the ocean, the Columbia River, the Coast Range, and, if you’re really lucky, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker and Mt. Hood. But know that this is the Oregon Coast, where you could find yourself standing in the clouds. Either way, you’ll have burned some serious calories.
5. Walk this way
Most people think they have walking figured out. But there’s more to it than left, right, left, right. There’s where to go, and how to maximize the experience. Luckily for visitors from Oregon and Washington (we’re talking especially to you, Portland and Vancouver), Seaside is just a hop, skip and a jump away.