Heceta Head to Hobbit Trail, Carl G. Washburne State Park, Oregon

Florence, OR
Length: 1.00 mi.
Type: Out & Back

About This Trail

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ACTIVITIES: Hiking, tide pools, historic landmark

LENGTH OF HIKE: 1 or 4.4 miles

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Out and back



PARKING FEE/PASS: $5 or state park pass






POTENTIAL CHILD OR BABY HAZARDS: Some drop-offs, but easy to see where
they are

GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Good rain layers

With a name like the “Hobbit Trail,” how can this not be a childlike wonder of an  adventure? There are two ways you can go about this hike. If you aren’t up for a long one, consider parking on the road and hiking the 0.5 mile out to the beach through the tree tunnel section known as the through the tree tunnel section known as the “Hobbit Trail.” Make sure you map the parking before arriving because this part is just a pull-out on the side of the road. There’s no true designated spot to park, so be aware that you are also getting out on the side of the highway. There is a small sign marking the Hobbit Trail, but you will miss it if you blink.

The more adventurous way to explore the Hobbit Trail is to start by parking at Heceta Head Lighthouse and hiking up to the lighthouse. Stop for a quick tour and a history lesson on lighthouses in the Northwest.

The 56-foot-tall Heceta Head Lighthouse was built in 1894 and for many years had the strongest beam in Oregon, shining out for 21 nautical miles. The lighthouse was renovated and reopened in 2013, so it’s worth a quick visit. Heceta Head was named after a Spanish explorer; however, it was originally home to the Siuslaw Indians who hunted sea lions and scavenged sea bird eggs from the rocky shores. In
the late 1800s, it was homesteaded, and the lighthouse was erected to help ships traveling north to deliver goods to ports in the north.

When you leave the Heceta Head Lighthouse, you climb a set of railroad tie stairs up the hillside. Stop and look out over the lighthouse for a spectacular view down the coastline. From this point, you crest the hill and begin traveling down. Remember, you will have to hike back up, and while it’s not a particularly steep hike, it’s long and gradual. If you have a little walker who runs down the trail, you might be carrying him up.

The trail meanders 0.7 mile through the Sitka spruce trees and eventually meets up with the Hobbit Trail. This last section down to the beach is so much fun for small children with big imaginations. Have a stroll in the forest story ready to tell them as you wind down through the tunnel of trees. At the bottom, the trail opens up to a beautiful golden yellow sandy beach. Plan to picnic there.

Interestingly, if you hike this in the spring, there are often ladybugs flying around, landing on rock, sand, and little hands. Keep an eye out for these magical
little bugs that always delight toddlers. If you hug the edge of the beach toward the trail, there are little trickles of water spilling down that are fun to play in as well.
If you’re wanting to add more distance to this hike or are staying a few days, you can also do the 3.5-mile China Creek Trail Loop. This is a lollipop loop hike that starts just across the road from Hobbit Trail. Make a weekend of it by camping in
the Carl G. Washburne Campground just down the road.

The Oregon coast is a magical place with windswept Dr. Seuss–like trees, white sand dunes, and miles of quiet coastline that takes a beating from storms, but this also keeps away the crowds. On a sunny weekend, expect the masses; but if city
folk are unsure of weather conditions, you can find yourself on trails alone for hours. Consider waiting for one of those on-and-off days, and you will get the entire beach to yourself. Often there will be sunny days on the coast in the cooler fall months when it’s raining inland. Also, it’s always 10 to 15 degrees cooler at the coast in the summer, so beat the heat and head out. The majority of this trail is in
the shade, so it’s a good one to visit on a hot summer day.

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter
Surface type Dirt
Elevation gain 400 ft.
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms Yes
Cell reception Spotty
Pet friendly No
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles

Trail highlights

Beach, Camping Nearby, Natural Play Area, and Shaded Hike

“We really enjoyed this trail because it feels like you are in a fairytale storybook as you head through the thick overgrowth tunnel down to the beach. The beach is open and fairly empty because it requires a short hike to it, so it never feels crowded.” —MARK HODGES

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $5.00

$5 or state park pass

Trail Contributor

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Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.


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