Arch Cape is less populated than the neighboring towns of Cannon Beach and Manzanita. Visitors can enjoy wandering along the peaceful, serene beaches while exploring interesting tide pools, caves, and even a waterfall, as well as hiking nearby trails. Arch Cape is the ideal destination for those seeking relaxation but also a chance to explore the natural beauty of the coast. Curious what else this off the beaten path beach town offers? Here are a few ideas:
Just north of Arch Cape is Hug Point Recreation Area, a designated Oregon state park. The sweetly named area earned the moniker from early travelers to Arch Cape. Prior to the highway being constructed, in order to get around the rocks that jet into the ocean, the 19th-century stagecoaches and cars would travel south along the beach and then “hug” the point at low tide in order to get to Arch Cape. In fact you can still see the tire ruts that were carved in the rocks. You’ll also want to spend some time exploring the caves and waterfall. You can easily make an afternoon of it with a packed lunch, frisbee for the dog, and kites for the kids! If you are staying in Arch Cape, you can avoid the sometimes crowded parking lot and take a refreshing walk up the beach to reach the area. You’ll have the added bonus of walking past a smaller version of Haystack Rock. Be sure to time your walk at low tide so you can explore the tide pools that surround the rock.
Walk to the south end of Arch Cape, and you’ll find an equally interesting rock outcropping. At the very lowest tides, you’ll even be able to walk through the arch to reach a magical beach that is only exposed during low tide. Just be sure to allow time to return back through the arch before the tide rolls in.
The 382-mile Oregon Coast Trail passes through Arch Cape. You can hike the section that crosses over Neahkahnie Mountain by walking east on Shingle Mill Road at the south end of Arch Cape. Watch for a little foot bridge on your right and follow that to access the lush trail that winds its way through the exceptionally-preserved old growth forest. If you hike 3.5 miles to Cape Falcon, you’ll be rewarded by stunning views of the Pacific. If you’re looking for a longer hike, continue on until you reach Oswald West State Park. Follow the trail down to Smuggler’s Cove, aka Short Sands Beach, where you can take a break and marvel at the surfers in action.
If you’re looking for adventure, bring your surf board, boogie board, or sea kayak, or if you prefer, you can rent from nearby Cleanline Surf in Cannon Beach. The water is definitely cold, so you will want to pack a wetsuit too (don’t own a wetsuit? Don’t worry you can rent those as well!). For a fun and challenging afternoon, try kayaking around Castle Rock at the south end of Arch Cape.