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Cascade Head
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mini location map2016-08-05
7 by photographer avatarblack_toes
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Cascade HeadNorth Coast, OR
North Coast, OR
Hiking avatar Aug 05 2016
Hiking4.12 Miles 1,150 AEG
Hiking4.12 Miles   3 Hrs   8 Mns   1.96 mph
1,150 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I read this was a must hike if you want to see a piece of the Oregon coast at its glorious best from a place on high. This appears no great secret since the easily accessible TH parking lot at Knight Park was nearly full of vehicles when we arrived in early afternoon. We had turned off the 101 four miles N of touristy Lincoln City at Three Rocks Rd and driven asphalt pavement another 2 1/2 mi to the park. A middle-aged couple returning from the "Lower Viewpoint" waxed on and on about the tremendous views, but advised not going on up to the "High Viewpoint" which is sometimes in cloud and is reached by steep-stepping it up a series of switchbacks. Sounded great and off we went from an elevation of about 50 feet. Cascade Head rises more than 1,000 feet above the sea and the Lower View Point is around 500'.

Mistake No. 1. I assumed the Lower Viewpoint, so often mentioned in articles, was a real thing, with a real sign, a real wall above a cliff and an interpretative sign. A real destination. Hell, even a Nature Conservancy sign at one high point mentioned the Lower View as being 6/10 of a mile away. But if there was such a thing we missed it completely. After an easy hike through heavy forest and over five metal bridges, 3 boardwalks and two paved roads, we entered onto an open area, aka The Grasslands. Dazzling views south emerged of the coastline, a mix of ocean surf, cliffs, coves, hills, lakes and verdant forest. In the distance a portion of Lincoln City shimmered. Almost anywhere in the Grasslands is the "Lower View." But not knowing that at the time, we pushed on. And on. Then upward steeply. Very steeply, at least for me in my Arizona mid-summer shape which can be described as something slightly above pathetic. Finally, with calves turning soft, we halted and took a side path into some woods to rest. I should've known when a sign warning "steep trails" ahead appeared that we had ventured onto the Upper Viewpoint trail. It was there at 850' el with worsening views, halfway between the summit of Cascade Head and the invisible Lower Viewpoint, that we turned around and came back.

Coming down the nice but nasty exposed-root dirt trail and scissoring through hip-high grass dotted by wildflowers, we spied a "pink triangle" in the distance. My first thought was, "that's it." The "Low Viewpoint." But as we closed in on the triangle, the triangle became human, a young woman decked out in a pink jacket, sitting motionless, meditating I suppose on some deep sorrow, and facing out to the sea. "We've been seeing you for a long way off," I said to her. She forced chuckle and said something, and MJ and I moved on at a quick pace. It was late afternoon, and we had not yet checked in to our motel in Lincoln City. Coming up from the parking lot, it had seemed a zoo. We counted 50 hikers before hitting the Grassland. But now there was only a handful. Back down at the parking lot, only a couple of cars remained. Had I to do it over again, we would've stopped somewhere in the Grasslands and before the switchbacks, unpacked and, like the woman in pink, sat there and looked out on the calm Pacific. It is truly one of the amazing sights along what has been a windy coast this week.
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