• Cape Meares features the shortest lighthouse and unusually-shaped Octopus Tree
• The cape and surrounding rocks are home to one of the largest nesting seabird colonies
A Pacific Coast headland, Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is one of the three capes along the breathtaking 35-mile Three Capes Scenic Route. Two other points of the route, Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Kiwanda Natural Area are also absolutely worth visiting.
The 100-acre Cape Meares State Park managed by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is surrounded by the 140-acre Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge managed by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The cape was named after Captian John Meares, a British explorer and fur trader who sailed along the Northwest Coast in 1788.
Situated 200 feet above the ocean, the cape offers spectacular vistas of crashing ocean waves on the steep bluff and rocky cliffs. The rocks and cliffs are home to one of the largest nesting seabird colonies in North America. The most numerous birds are Common murres. Also, pigeon guillemots, tufted puffins, peregrine falcons, pelagic and Brandt's cormorants are frequently seen on this unique site. The best time for seabirds watching is between April and July.
Cape Meares offers excellent views to spot migrating gray whales from December to January when they traveled south to their breeding grounds in Mexico and from March to April when they migrate back to Alaska.
Cape Meares Lighthouse
Another point of interest is the Cape Meares Lighthouse, the shortest light station on the Oregon Coast , constructed in 1890 on the basalt outcropping jutting a half-mile into the ocean. Standing 217 feet above the ocean, the 38-foot-high lighthouse was Tillamook Bay’s light station until 1963.
A 0.2-mile paved trail leads from the parking area to the lighthouse. The trail along the coastal vegetation features breathtaking ocean views and an interpretive board explaining the history and local wildlife.
The park has several scenic hiking trails totaling three miles of distance. One of the walking trails leads to the large unusually-shaped Sitka spruce, known as Octopus Tree. The age of the Octopus Tree is estimated to be 250 to 300 years. Being 105-foot tall with a 50-fot base without a central trunk, the tree resembles an octopus with giant tentacles heading toward the sky.
The Octopus Tree is designated as an Oregon Heritage Tree in April 2009 and it is believed to carry big ceremonial significance for the local native population back in the days.
Cape Meares | General Description
Services: Flush restroom, picnic area
Activities: Hiking, nature viewing, and photography
Accommodations: No camping at the site, lodging in Oceanside and Tillamook
Distance from the trailhead: Short
Hike Difficulty Level: Easy
Road access: Any passenger vehicle
Day-use fees: Free
Dogs: Must be on a leash
Popularity: Low to Moderate
Cape Meares is located:
- 12 miles northwest of Tillamook
- 84 miles west of Portland
- 84 miles northwest of Salem.
- Take Highway OR-131 and travel 9 miles west to Cape Meares Loop
- Turn right onto Cape Meares Loop and follow 1.2 miles
- Continue onto Bayshore Drive for 1.4 miles to the park entrance on the left.