We are blessed to live in a State where one weekend we can hike amid sagebrush and wildflowers in the High Desert and the next weekend hike along the Pacific Ocean.
For our latest outing we headed to the Oregon Coast to check out one new destination and one familiar one. Our original plan was to break the day up into two hikes, first up Angora Peak from a gated logging road, then to Cape Falcon after driving back south on Highway 101 for 2 miles to the Short Sands Trail South Trailhead. We had hiked to Cape Falcon from that same trailhead in 2012 which would mean we’d be duplicating that hike (which we try and avoid).
An alternative presented itself while researching the Angora Peak hike. The Oregon Coast Trail passes Cape Falcon and then crosses Cape Falcon Road to the north on it’s way to Arch Cape. Cape Falcon Road is just a tenth of a mile north of the gated logging road for the Angora Peak hike so by parking on the shoulder of Cape Falcon Road at the OCT we could hike up to Angora Peak and back then take the Oregon Coast Trail out to Cape Falcon and back. This would allow us to not have to drive to a second trailhead and we wouldn’t be duplicating our 2012 hike to Cape Falcon.
With the plan settled we dove north of Nehalem on Highway 101 for 8 miles and turned left onto Cape Falcon Road where we parked at a small pullout by a trail sign.
We walked back to the highway which was less than 100 yards away, crossed to the east shoulder, and followed it south for .1 miles to the gated road. The lumber company has a sign posted regarding rules for the area which should always be followed in order to ensure they are not forced to close access.
The road passes through a landscape of clear cuts with Angora Peak in the distance.
We stuck to what was obviously the main road and in about a mile passes a quarry.
Beyond the quarry we forked left after passing a 1 mile marker (blue spray painted 1 on a concrete slab). This road ended in tenth of a mile at a T-shaped junction with Arch Cape Mill Road.
We turned right on Arch Cape Mill Road passing another gate.
As we climbed higher up the road views back to the Pacific Ocean improved.
Tillamook Rock and Tillamook Head
There weren’t a lot of flowers blooming yet but here a few were in bloom.
Arch Cape Mill Road wound up along a cliff face to a viewpoint in about 3/4 of a mile.
We followed the road another half a mile before veering right onto a brushy trail at a small rock cairn.
After a couple of hundred yards we came to a grassy opening a where we headed uphill on another old road bed.
A short distance up the old road bed we came to an old stone shelter which showed signs of recent use including a fire pit. Just the kind of activity that could prompt the lumber company to close access.
A short trail to the right from the shelter led to a viewpoint where we could see Neahkahnie Mountain and Cape Falcon in Oswald West State Park.
Up to this point we had been following Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” 4th edition which ended the hike at the viewpoint near the shelter. We decided to press on for Angora Peak following descriptions on Summitpost.org and in trip reports on Oregonhikers.org. We returned to Arch Cape Road and continued on. The road became very overgrown about 150 yards from the rock cairn so we followed another user trail for three tenths of a mile to a saddle where the conditions improved and views opened up.
To the south the green farmland along the Nehalem River stood out in stark contrast to the surrounding hills.
Following the Nehalem River west it emptied into the Pacific beyond Neahkahnie Mountain.
To the west was more ocean beyond the western end of Angora Peaks ridge.
To the east Arch Cape Mill Road could be seen passing between the rock pinnacles of Revenge of Angora and Angora Pinnacle.
We followed the road to a saddle between the two rock pinnacle where we turned sharply north onto another abandoned logging road. The road here was so overgrown it looked more like a trail now.
Gaps in the trees offered views north to Onion Peak (and Saddle Mountain beyond).
To the NE we could just make out Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. The lighting and the clouds did their best to camouflage them but with a little effort they were visible.
Mt. St. Helens
Slides are common in the coast range which we were reminded of along this stretch. A section of road was all but gone leaving a faint use trail as the only option. It is still passable for now but caution is warranted and a fear of heights would likely end the hike at this point.
From the northern end of the slide we could see evidence of slide below Angora Pinnacle which may have happened this last winter.
Beyond the washout, the road made another brief appearance before becoming overgrown with trees.
When the GPS showed we were NW of the summit near the end of the road we turned off the road and headed uphill cross-country through the forest.
We gained a ridge line and began to work our way toward the summit. The summit itself is reportedly view less due to trees but just to the west of actual summit is a rock out crop which did have a view and made for a perfect spot to sit and have a snack.
We could even make out our next destination, Cape Falcon, from the rocks.
We returned as we’d come, arriving back at the Oregon Coast Trail and heading toward Cape Falcon.
The trail crossed several streams on 5 footbridges before beginning to climb up and over a ridge. Much of the trail was muddy and there were several trees down which required some interesting maneuvers to get past.
Other sections were dry and lined with green sourgrass.
After approximately 2.5 miles we came to a familiar viewpoint looking north to Tillamook Head.
This is where we had turned around in 2012 having followed the OCT north after visiting Cape Falcon. In another 3/4 of a mile we reached a better viewpoint where we could see Cape Falcon and a number of colorful sea caves in the rocks below.
We continued on to a washed out creek crossing. Heather smartly used a nearby log instead of following my slippy effort to use the trail.
Another quarter mile brought us to the spur trail out to Cape Falcon. Up to that point we’d seen one gentleman on the way to Angora Peak with his dogs on the lower portion of the logging road and two girls on the Oregon Coast Trail as we went over the ridge. Cape Falcon was a different story. There were a number of hikers that had come from the south, a large group of which were attempting to navigate an extremely muddy section of the trail.
Beyond the mud pit the trail dried out nicely as it passed through a tall hedge of salal and fern.
As we made our way out this .2 mile trail the brush got lower eventually opening up views to the south of Neahkahnie Mountain.
The trail extended out the cape to viewpoints along its rocky end.
Seabirds occupied the furthest reaches.
After a short break we headed back. On our way back up the ridge we may have spotted a northern flying squirrel. Something crossed my line of vision through the air from the left to the right appearing to land on a tree near a dark opening. At first I couldn’t see anything but then something moved on the tree so I quickly zoomed in and took a picture. It immediately darted into the opening without my being able to make our what it was but I thought it might have been a woodpecker. I was surprised when I uploaded the picture later to see a squirrel.
The picture quality makes an id nearly impossible and it may be that this squirrel came out of the opening in response to whatever I had seen but at this point there is still a possibility that it was a flying squirrel.
The rest of the hike back was uneventful as we passed back through the forest to Cape Falcon Road. We ended the day with 17 miles showing on the GPS, 8.9 during the Angora Peak portion and 8.1 to Cape Falcon and back. As we were changing out of our muddy clothes at the car a light rain started. We’d somehow timed it perfectly. Happy Trails!
Flickr:Angora Peak & Cape Falcon