There are a few ways to go hiking without a car at the Oregon Coast, even if you’re starting in Portland. In this post I’m going to cover car-free hiking options around Cannon Beach, Oregon, including a section of the Oregon Coast Trail from Cannon Beach to Seaside.
Getting to the Oregon Coast Without a Car
To hike around Cannon Beach without a car, the best bet is to get yourself first to Seaside. And you’ll probably need to spend a night in Seaside, since the bus service gets there in the evening.
To get from Portland to the coast without a car, you have a few options. For example, you can take the Greyhound to Seaside for less than $20, or you can take Point Bus, which also stops in Cannon Beach on the way but at the moment doesn’t have a very convenient schedule. Both arrive in Seaside around 9 p.m., so get a room and get ready to start hiking in the morning.
You can also get to Cannon Beach by bus from Portland via Tillamook; take Tillamook County Bus #5 from Portland to Tillamook, then Bus #3 from there to Manzanita and Cannon Beach. This is still not super convenient and would take three hours to reach Cannon Beach.
So, perhaps the lesson from the above is that if you don’t own a car and want to go hiking at the coast, renting a car for a day would be a good option! Or you can hike without a car at Mount Hood or in the Columbia River Gorge.
Hiking Options Around Seaside and Cannon Beach
You can go for some pretty nice walks right in Seaside, mainly on the beach and the town’s promenade, but the real hiking action in these parts is in Cannon Beach. To get there from Seaside, you’ll need to NW Connector Bus #20 to Tolovana, which you can catch right in downtown Seaside. It runs once an hour and costs $1, payable in cash on board. $3 gets you a day pass. Check the website or call 503-861-7433 for more information and schedules.
The 20 bus will stop at Bruce’s Candy Kitchen in Cannon Beach, which is a cool little town with a lovely beach that includes the famous Haystack Rock. But if you just want to hike, ask the driver to stop as soon as possible in Cannon Beach, which will save you a bit of distance. Either way, aim yourself at Ecola State Park and start walking.
You’ll have to do a little roadwalking to get into the park, so first aim for the corner of 5th Street and Ecola State Park Road, across from Les Shirley Park. From here, you can walk up the park road for 0.7 mile, or you can detour to the beach (why not?), add a little distance, and use less-crowded streets to get there.
This map shows those two options:
Eventually, you’ll walk up the park access road until you see a trail heading left for Crescent Beach. That’s basically it for road walking, unless you’re headed all the way — some 14 miles — to Seaside.
Cannon Beach to Ecola Point on the Oregon Coast Trail
Once you’re on that trail to Crescent Beach, you’ve joined the Oregon Coast Trail. Crescent Beach is a lovely beach and worth a visit, or you can skip it and stay on the trail to Ecola Point. But even if you go down to Crescent Beach, another trail a bit farther north up the beach will still get you to Ecola Point.
The one-way distance from the Candy Kitchen in Cannon Beach to Ecola Point on foot is 2.5 miles. Add maybe a mile to that if you drop own to Crescent Beach.
Ecola Point to Indian Beach
From Ecola Point, which is beautiful and has nice picnic tables — that’s it at the top of this post — follow the Oregon Coast Trail north for more scenery as you walk up and over a hill for about 3.4 miles and a few hundred feet to Indian Beach. Again, it’s a lovely spot (above), and this time you can walk right onto the beach and watch surfers or just hang out.
You’re now about five miles from the stop in Cannon Beach, but I recommend going at least 1.5 mile up the trail to a place called Hiker’s Camp. To do that, look for the bathroom on the north side of the lot at Indian Beach, then take the left-hand Lighthouse Trail heading up into the trees. The trail on the right goes to the same place, but it’s viewless and dull.
Lighthouse Trail will wind up the hillside, passing several nice viewpoints, and arrive at hiker’s camp, an overnight destination for people hiking the Oregon Coast Trail. That is, people can camp here but they can’t park a car in the park overnight. But you didn’t bring a car, did you? So this is where you could actually backpack on the Oregon Coast without a car! With the cabins and covered dining area, you don’t even need a tent!
From Hiker’s Camp, a side trail leads left for a quarter mile to a viewpoint over the ocean that includes an abandoned lighthouse about a mile offshore.
At this point you’re around 6.5 miles from Cannon Beach, and honestly, unless you want to do the big trek to Seaside – like if you’re backpacking – then you should head back to Cannon Beach, get an ice cream or something, and then take the bus back to Seaside.
Read more on hiking Ecola Point to Indian Beach in the Field Guide at OregonHikers.org.
Hiking from Cannon Beach to Seaside
If you are going on to Seaside, from Hiker’s Camp you’ve got 5.3 miles, a little bit more climbing in the first part, and not much for views other than big trees and occasional glimpses of the ocean.
The trail will dump you out at the Tillamook Head Trailhead in Seaside, which you can walk down (north) for about a mile until you see the Oregon Coast Trail heading left onto the beach. Follow that for just over a mile, and you’re in downtown Seaside.
Here’s more on this hike, described in reverse, from the Field Guide.
If you are spending the night in Seaside, you should have dropped your overnight stuff at your hotel before heading to Cannon Beach – in which case, grab a shower and then head for a well-deserved dinner.
The walk from the Cannon Beach bus stop to downtown Seaside is about 14.5 miles with 2,000 feet of ascent! I did most of it once, with a car but solo, as a test for this post and to research my book, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland (And yes, that’s an affiliate link, meaning if you use that to buy a book or anything else, you basically buy me a shot of espresso. Thanks!)
I left Seaside on a bus just after, 10, walked from 10:25 in Cannon Beach until about 5 p.m. at the Seaside trailhead, then did another 1.3 miles to where I parked my car near the Seaside Golf Course. That was 13.2 miles – a long, muddy, tiring day, but well worth it. Breaking it up with a camping night out (without a tent, even) would be pretty cool.