Cape Perpetua – St. Perpetua Trail


As Day 9 (and the entire trip) was winding down, I decided I needed to go on one last hike, somewhere.  Cape Perpetua probably wasn’t the best possible choice, but it did offer a great view.

Cape Perpetua is just south of Yachats on US 101, and in the same area as Devil’s Churn.

This is the great view (above).  You can see it without any hiking at all, by driving up Cummins Peak Road, then Forest Road 5553.  From the upper trailhead, there are several good places to look out on the coastline.  I, however, was determined to hike, and a sign at the trailhead made the St. Perpetua Trail sound as if it became more beautiful around every turn.  It does, if you’re hiking from the bottom up.  From the top down, well, you’re just going downhill.

There are some great views of the steep hillside, don’t get me wrong.  But as you round one switchback after another…

… the coast is in view less of the time.  Instead, you’re walking through forest…

… with just an occasional view of the ocean, when you reach a switchback on the ocean side.

By the time you make it to the bottom of the St. Perpetua Trail, you’re hit with a terrible realization.  Now, you’ve got to walk all the way back to the top.  I turned around at the point where the trail crosses the road, however the trail continues on to a nearby visitor’s center.  My round trip was about 1 1/2 miles.

So my suggestion is, simply drive to the top of Cape Perpetua, check out the view, and move on.  If you must hike, go from the bottom up, so the views gradually reveal themselves.  Then, have someone meet you at the top, so you don’t have to walk back down.

This area (as well as nearby Devil’s Churn) is on US Forest Service land, which means there’s a $5 parking fee, no matter how long or short a time you plan to stay.  If you’re going on a hike, don’t chance it–pay the money.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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