How to get epic views of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Seaside Stories

How to Get Epic Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Views

September 2, 2017 | by By Shellie Bailey-Shah

Views of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse are well within your reach thanks to the adventure of the Tillamook Head Trail just south of Seaside.

In 1806, the Lewis and Clark expedition crossed Tillamook Head to buy the blubber of a stranded whale from Native Americans at Cannon Beach. At the viewpoint, Captain William Clark famously marveled, “I behold the grandest and most pleasing prospect which my eyes ever surveyed.”

Today, you can hike the same trail as Clark — the Tillamook Head Trail —and look in awe at the same view. You’ll also get to see the infamous Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, perched on an inhospitable rock often swept over by crashing waves. Nicknamed “Terrible Tilly,” the lighthouse had a reputation for ill-tempered lighthouse keepers whose cramped quarters and isolation sometimes got the better of them.

THE QUEST BEGINS

Your quest to see Tillamook Rock begins on the south side of Seaside at the end of Sunset Boulevard. Here you’ll find a free parking lot and the Tillamook Head trailhead in Elmer Feldenheimer Forest Preserve. If you were to look at a trail map, you might assume that you’d be treated to ocean views along the entire trail. Instead you’ll find that much of the trail runs under towering Sitka spruce, Western hemlock and Western red cedar with a bed of deer ferns, skunk cabbage and goose-neck moss. To see Terribly Tilly, you’ll need to do a little work.

The most strenuous part of the climb is at the very beginning with a series of switchbacks that yield an elevation gain of 900 feet. You’ll reach the highest point after about 1.7 miles. The trail levels out and then meanders along the 1,130-foot-tall headland. Just after the 4-mile mark, you’ll pass three, open-sided camping shelters in addition to a six-room, concrete bunker that housed radar equipment during World War II. A short spur trail leads to the cliffside viewpoint where you’ll spot Tilly a little over a mile offshore, lonely and forgotten. The view, however, will be one to remember.

THE JOURNEY BACK

Retrace your steps to the parking lot, or if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can continue 1.6 miles to Indian Beach picnic area or beyond that, another 1.5 miles to Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach.

If you make the full trek to Cannon Beach, you can call one of two cab companies in Seaside for a lift back. At the time of writing, Aalpha Shuttle (503-440-7777) charges $22 for a ride from Ecola Point and $27 from Indian Beach; Royal (503-325-5818) does not have a flat rate from either of those two locations, but you can expect to pay between $30-$40.

Click here for more great hikes in and around Seaside.

Photo by Greg Vaughn

and so much more!

Color Now Bursting on the Coast

Pick up a colorful bouquet of summer dahlias at roadside stands along Highway 101 and other coast highways

Learn More
A Weekend of Discoveries

Last weekend I went to the Pouring at the Coast Event with my boyfriend, and had the best time! We were given souvenir glasses to use during the event (and they had rinse stations to keep your glass clean between tastings). We tried craft beers from every brewery, and I discovered I really enjoy the dark beers

Learn More
The Perfect S’more

As the sun continues to make more regular appearances, I continue to look forward to external sunshine. And, yearning for a sweet treat, I’m reminded of that summer favorite: S’mores!

Learn More
Surrey in Seaside
How to Bike Seaside

Our author takes a look at the various ways to bike in and around Seaside, Oregon.

Learn More
The Iron Horse Comes to Town

A look at the train that connected Seaside to Portland in 1898

Learn More
An early morning kayak ride

One kayaker's take on an early morning ride into the Necanicum Estuary.

Learn More
Seaside Elk

I was driving into Seaside, along Highway 101 South, and had just passed the Circle Creek Campsite on the left, when I noticed several cars parked off the side of the road.

Learn More
Awards Program for Excellence in Customer Service

New Customer Service Awards Program in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
A Seaside Jewel

Library in Seaside is a popular jewel for small community

Learn More
Destinations Magazine: Great Escapes

Vacations are the “great escapes we need,” says Destinations magazine, “to relax, recharge and rejuvenate oursel...

Learn More
The Tale of the Driftwood Forts

As driftwood forts become more rare along the Oregon Coast, the memories hold strong.

Learn More
A Beach Bicycle Built for Two

Beach Bike Rentals in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
Buffleheads: Oregon Coast’s Silliest Part-Time Residents

Buffleheads in Seaside, Oregon rivers in winter.

Learn More
Still Room for Improvement in Customer Service

Excellence in customer service awards results for 2015

Learn More
Whale Watching

While it’s possible to see whales all year along the Oregon Coast, visitors tend to flock to Seaside and other coastal communiti...

Learn More
A New Year of Seaside Adventures

A new year in Seaside means you have 12 months of adventure ahead —  trekking through rain forests, watching whales spray and d...

Learn More
Our timeless ocean

Enjoying the ocean can be a timeless endeavor.

Learn More