Have you ever been to the Oregon Coast and thought, “I wish we were the only ones on this beach!”?
You’re in luck because we found the perfect secret beach trail, just minutes north of Cannon Beach – and you can even see Haystack Rock in the distance! It’s called Crescent Beach Trail in Ecola State Park, and we’re sharing all the details you need below.
Hiking Crescent Beach Trail To A Hidden Cove in Ecola State Park
A Quick Note On Accessibility
Oregon is proud to share that all of the coastal beaches are for public enjoyment. This means that anyone and everyone can visit these shores!
As Pacific Northwest travel bloggers, we are proud to share our corner of the world with visitors and locals alike. We want to give everyone a chance to visit places safely and sustainably.
Along with specific directions, we will be sharing tips on how to visit sustainably, safely, and how to be prepared for your hike. We believe that the more people that visit these places and the better equipped they are, the more advocates are created for conservation, protection, and safe access for all.
Thank you for being a part of making the outdoors a more inclusive place for all!
What Makes Crescent Beach Trail So Special?
Crescent Beach Trail is one of the most popular Oregon Coast hiking trails in Ecola State Park. It’s located right off the main parking lot and brings you to a secluded beach with incredible views of Haystack Rock and other sea stacks to the south.
This trail leads you through lush green forest trails, gives you sweeping views of the cliffside near the ocean, and provides beach access to a quieter section of the Oregon Coast.
Other beautiful trails in the park include Indian Beach Trail, Tillamook Rock, and the Clatsop Loop Trail, but we think Crescent Beach is the most beautiful!
Best Time To Visit Crescent Beach Trail
The best time to visit Crescent Beach is on a clear, sunny day at low tide (but clearly, this photo set was shot in the rain, LOL!).
A large part of this trail is through the wet & dense coastal forest, so a clear day helps provide drier conditions for easy walking. However, clear day or not, you can expect to find that this trail can be quite muddy!
What To Bring To Crescent Beach Trail
Because Crescent Beach Trial has ocean access, it’s important to bring waterproof gear to keep dry! These suggestions are relatively the same as our post on gear to bring to the Washington Coast, but we’ll list our top picks here, too.
Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. There is a notably high chance of encountering mud on Elk Flats Trail. Come prepared with waterproof boots so you can feel comfortable and dry! Our current favorite waterproof hiking boots are the Vasque St Elias GTX Boot. They are made of leather that mold and shape to your feet the more you wear them!
Windbreaker Jacket. The wind on the coast can be unforgiving at times, so protect yourself with a rain jacket or windbreaker. This one by REI is affordable and ultra-light, meaning you can cram it in your bag without it taking up too much space.
A Reliable Camera. There is a good chance you will be taking photos on Crescent Beach Trail, so make sure to pack your favorite camera! You can read our travel photography gear list if you’re curious about what we bring. However, there’s no need for a fancy camera if you don’t have one – a smartphone or even this tiny Canon Powershot G7 X can do the trick just fine. Better yet, simply enjoy it with your eyes – they are the best cameras!
A Day Pack. Keep your hands free and carry your items in a lightweight day pack for this trail. We like the REI Flash Pack collection because they are ultralight and come in tons of fun colors. When not in use, they store down super small and take up very little space!
Safety Tips For Crescent Beach Trail (LNT)
It’s not a surprise that the Pacific Northwest region receives a high amount of rain. You can expect this trail to be slippery and muddy more often than not! If you choose to explore the beach, make sure to have a tide chart with you!
Below, we’re sharing the Leave No Trace Principles to follow, catered specifically to Crescent Beach Trail:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Make sure to prepare for wet conditions, and pack the 10 hiking essentials. To help guide your way, here are our favorite hiking apps to download!
- Travel on proper surfaces: After the rain, this trail is heavily muddy and slippery. If this is the case, it’s still proper to travel through the mud instead of around it. This helps keep the trail from unnecessarily widening. Along the shore, be wary of crossing headlands. Always know the tide times and make sure you can make it back without getting trapped!
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out. Carry out all trash, and use the bathrooms located in the parking lot.
- Leave Wildlife & Plants Undisturbed: Delicate plants scatter this Oregon Coast hiking trail. They can be quickly damaged under the foot of a hiker! Stay on the trail, even if it’s muddy!
- Minimize Campfire Impacts: There are no fires allowed at Crescent Beach.
- Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife. Don’t leave food out, and keep pets on a leash for this hike!
- Be considerate of others: Everyone visits for their own reasons. Respect other’s experiences too, by keeping the noise down, and yielding to trail passers.
Crescent Beach Trail Trail Details
- Trailhead Coordinates: 45.9194338,-123.974288
- Trail Distance: 2 miles out-and-back
- Elevation Gain: 488 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
Crescent Beach Trail is located in Ecola State Park, just north of Cannon Beach, Oregon. To reach the Crescent Beach Trailhead simply park in the main parking lot.
Don’t forget to pay the day-use fee ($5) to leave your car in the lot! There is a convenient credit card kiosk to get day-use passes. Near the bathrooms at the beginning of the parking lot, you’ll see signs to begin Crescent Beach Trail.
The trail starts out under a cover of lush woods. Nearly right away, there will be a series of wooden steps to climb up into the forest. After a short walk in the green, lush forest, you’ll walk along Ecola Park Road for less than 100 yards and then drop back down onto the trail once again.
Walk for quite some time among the Sitka Spruce trees, through dense bushes of salal. Along the way, you’ll see several types of ferns, especially Sword ferns.
Travel through a lush gully, where you can do some proper forest bathing. I.E., take some time to enjoy all your senses – hear the rushing of the water, feel mud under your feet, breathe the fresh coastal air…it’s your hike!
Keep walking until you encounter the coastal switchbacks. There is a series of switchbacks down to the water – each with incredible views of the ocean through the tall trees. Keep to the trail and don’t be tempted to take the shortcuts down the hill. Enforcing these shortcuts compromises the hill, which could lead to dangerous landslides in the future!
Reaching Crescent Beach
At the end of the trail, walk down two sets of wooden stairs to finally touch the shore. There is a LOT of exploring to be had here, so remember to pack plenty of hiking snacks (or even a picnic) and spend the afternoon exploring this quiet Oregon Coast beach.
Head north on the beach to Ecola Point to see the driftwood lined shores and explore around the rocks. Here, there are two tunnels you can walk through (low-tide only!) and a cave to find. South of Crescent Beach, you will find Thimble Rock and Bird Rocks just offshore, and several tide pools brimming with life.
Hiking Notes: There has been some re-routing of this trail recently, due to erosion near the coastal cliffs. If you see any trails blocked off with piles of logs/sticks, look instead for brightly colored markers to help navigate you to the new trail sections.
Things To Do At Crescent Beach
Now that you’ve reached the end of Crescent Beach Trail, it’s time to explore the beach! Here are some things you can do, and places you can explore:
Northside of Crescent Beach: See Sea Lion Rocks near Ecola Point, and explore the caves and two walk-through tunnels. Spot a small waterfall splashing into the ocean, and walk along driftwood-littered shores. During low tide, you can go around the point and access two smaller, secret beaches.
South side of Crescent Beach: Walk to Chapman Point and see Thimble Rock and Bird Rocks just offshore.
Seaside flora and fauna: Explore the many tide pools and seaside wildlife, including pelicans, sea lions, and seals basking in the sun!
Note: To access most of the beach, it’s imperative that you visit during low tide. Click here to save or screenshot Cannon Beach’s tide charts the day of your trip!
More Hiking Trails On The Oregon Coast
Elk Flats Trail Near Manzanita, Oregon: Elk Flats Trail is just South of Oswald West State Park, boasting dramatic cliffside views and beautiful seaside meadows. Come in the early morning or late evening to spot the resident elk, or come *carefully* during a stormy day to see the waves crash on the cliffside.
Short Sand Trail in Oswald West State Park: Short Sand Beach is an easy-to-reach cove just south of Cannon Beach. If you are a beginner surfer, beach explorer, or have small children, this family-friendly hike is perfect for you!
Cathedral Tree Trail in Astoria, Oregon: Cathedral Tree Trail takes you to a towering hollowed-out tree near downtown Astoria for a fairytale-like walk in the forest. Continue on the trail to the historic Astoria Column, too!
Cape Kiwanda Natural Area in Pacific City: Cape Kiwanda is full of beautiful and scenic landscapes. Climb the sand dunes for a higher perspective of the beach, and to watch the paragliders fly through the air.
Where To Stay Nearby On The Oregon Coast
Oregon Coast Modern Cabin: If you are looking for cool cabins to explore on the Oregon Coast, consider checking out the Oregon Coast Modern! This mid-century escape has three bedrooms, perfect for a family or small friend gathering!
Hotels Near Cannon Beach:
- $ – Tolvana Inn (Beachfront, basic amenities)
- $$ – SurfSand Resort (Polished oceanside resort with a pool and spa)
- $$$ – The Ocean Lodge (Luxury suites with free breakfast, and beachfront views)