Cape Lookout State Park Things to Do
Picnic and Barbecue Areas
Located west of the cabins and at the south side of the main parking area, there is a forested beach area with a number of picnic tables. Many of these picnic tables also have a grilling stand built in to the area around the picnic table.
As seen in photo 2, there is also a reasonably large picnic shelter, which may be reserved for group use. This is located right along the trail that leads from the main north beach parking area to the beach itself. If there is no sign reserving this shelter for someone else, you will almost always find someone occupying it on a first-come first-served basis.Related to:
- Family Travel
Cape Lookout Road Viewpoints
South of Netarts Bay, Cape Lookout Road starts climing the hill to the ridge that goes out to sea and forms Cape Lookout. There are several wide spots in the road where it is possible to pull off to the side, and on a clear day, or even a not-so-clear day when the clouds are above the Cape, it is possible to get a decent view of Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean washing the edge of the Peninsula.
The signs say "No Parking on Pavement". This is because the paved areas are actually the road, and parking on the edge of the road interferes with traffic. Instead, pull all the way off the road into the gravel areas.
Other than looking over the edge at the view, there isn't too much else to do here.Related to:
- Road Trip
Cape Lookout Trails
There are some 8 miles (13 km) of hiking trails in Cape Lookout State Park. These inlude:
Cape Trail: approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) in length, it does not have long inclines but does have a series of somewhat steep up and down segments. It goes from the parking lot at the summit of the road to Cape Lookout to the end of the cape, and provides great views on a clear day. As the end of the cape is a steeply sloped cliff above the ocean far away from the coast itself, it is considered a reasonably good place to watch for whales during the migration season.
South Beach Trail: 1.8 miles (3 km) of steeply sloping trail leads from the parking area at the summit down to the beach on the south side of Cape Lookout
North Trail: 2.3 miles (4 km) connecting the trailhead area at the summit of the cape with the park day use area along the beach at the north end of the park.Related to:
- Whale Watching
- Hiking and Walking
Cape Lookout State Park Warnings and Dangers
The Edge: Steep Dropoff into...
Over the years, improvements have been made to Oregon State Parks, especially when it comes to hand rails next to steep cliffs.
However, in a number of places, you will find that the steep cliffs remain unprotected. In some cases it is simply too difficult to build a railing next to the trail everywhere, and in other cases it is simply that resources don't exist to construct railings yet.
Most of these places aren't for people who are severely uneasy with heights either.
Cape Lookout State Park is one of those many, many places in the Pacific Northwest where visitors have to take safety into their own hands, and be very careful as they walk along a trail that runs along the edge of the cliff in a number of places.
There isn't much to prevent you from falling several hundred feet down into the ocean if you get too close to the edge or trip over something and fall into the nothingness above the ocean.
What handrails there are along the edge of the cliff are the old steel cable type that really date from the 1940s or 1950s, and modern visitors are usually not used to such flimsy protections on the edge of such a cliff.
Don't expect the state parks crews to be able to rope off entire forests for your protection, but at this location you are really going to want to watch yourself (and any children that are traveling with you) and stay away from the edge!Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Cape Lookout State Park Off The Beaten Path
Whiskey Creek Fish Hatchery
For reasons that are complex to explain I have a difficult time with fish hatcheries. In our current overfished environment they are a necessary part of maintaining fish stocks. I do wish that they were not necessary but under the circumstances they are currently necessary.
The exact history of this fish hatchery isn't completely known. It is known that sometime in the early to mid 1900s the land was donated to Oregon State University, which apparently built the first generation of fish hatcheries here. By 1985 it had closed.
In 1987 the Tillamook Anglers formed and leased the area from Oregon State University. The hatchery was essentially completely rebuilt from the ground up by this volunteer organization. Using entirely volunteer labor this process has taken about 20 years, but today they contribute a vital piece to keeping salmon returning to Netarts Bay.
Visitors are invited to feed the salmon and watch the salmon grow.
When the fish are running (November is one of several good months) there are wild salmon that return to Whiskey Creek, and a paved path on the opposite side of Whiskey Creek Road leads a short distance to the creek itself. Here you can watch the returning wild salmon that have passed the hatchery make their way upstream. This is not at all easy for them as the creek is quite shallow here, but they do make progress. Watch for bursts of progress as they rest for minutes on end, then put forth an effort to cross the various rapid areas of the stream.
A single picnic table overlooks Netarts Bay.
If you have an interest in birds, take a look at the water just outside the hatchery, as you might find several different types of birds there. Also, the hatchery has a late blooming fuschia and the Anna's Hummingbirds continue to fight over the flowers deep into November.
How to Get Here:
Head south from Netarts on Netarts Bay Raod. Hatchery is well marked, and slightly north of the State Park main camping area.
Address: 7660 Whiskey Creek Rd, Tillamook, OR 97141