Cascade Head is a spectacular coastal headland and is part of a 270-acre reserve owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. It is a haven for rare plants and wildlife that were once abundant along the Oregon Coast including the Oregon silverspot butterfly. The views from the top of Cascade Head are outstanding and include the Salmon River Estuary. The experience on being on top of the windy grassy headland overlooking the blue Pacific Ocean is not one to be missed!
Cascade Head is in northwest Oregon, north of Lincoln City and south of Neskowin. Access is from Hwy 101.
There are two trails you can take to reach Cascade Head. To find the lower trail which provides a more vigorous hike to the top of the headland, head north on Hwy 101 from Lincoln City. Just north of the Salmon River turn west on Three Rocks Road. After 2 miles take the left fork and park in Knight Park. The trailhead begins there. It crosses through private and U.S. Forest Service property and over a narrow winding road at the beginning. Please use caution and respect private property. It's about 1.7 miles and 1,200 feet elevation gain to the top of Cascade Head. The first part climbs through a lush and shady forest dominated by old-growth Sitka Spruce. Soon you break out of the forest, cross a couple of bridges, and find yourself on a wild and windy grassland bluff.
The upper trail which provides a more level one-mile hike to the upper viewpoint is closed by the Forest Service from January 1 to July 15. To reach it, drive 2.4 miles north of the Salmon River almost to the summit of Cascade Head. Turn left on Cascade Head Road (Forest Service Road 1861). Continue 4 miles bearing left when the road forks. The upper trailhead is marked by a small parking lot and sign. At the upper viewpoint the trail drops steeply 500 feet to connect with the lower trail.
Link to other trails in the area
Please stay on the trail. Don't collect plants, insects or other species or disturb soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers.
No pets, bicycles, hunting, camping or campfires are allowed.
For groups of 10 or more, please contact
the Nature Conservancy before visiting the preserve.
Please bring a bag and carry out any trash you find.
to the Nature Conservancy any problems you observe (indications of camping, plant removal, hunting, off-road vehicle damage, etc).
No camping or campfires are allowed at the Preserve. Nearby state park campgrounds do allow camping including:
Cape Lookout State Park
Oswald West State Park
Nehalem Bay State Park
South Beach State Park
Devils Lake State Recreation Area
External LinksThe Nature Conservancy
Northern Oregon Coastal Strip Weather Forecast
Rare plants and animals found at Cascade Head
Formed by the uplift of volcanic rock, Cascade Head is unusual for the extent of its grassland meadows dominated by native species including red fescue, wild rye, Pacific reedgrass, coastal paintbrush, goldenrod, blue violet, and streambank lupine. Ninety-nine percent of the world's population of the Cascade Head catchfly (which is a wildflower, even though it sounds like it's an insect) is found here. Hairy checkermallow is another rare flower found at Cascade Head.
The Oregon silverspot butterfly, listed as a threatened species, is known to only five other locations in the world. This butterfly depends on a single plant species, the early blue violet, to feed its larvae. Elk, deer, coyote, snowshoe hare, the Pacific giant salamander, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Northern Harrier, Red-tail Hawk, and the occasional Peregrine Falcon can be seen at the Preserve.