Located between Manzanita and Arch Cape, Oswald West State Park is one of the most popular beach spots on the Oregon Coast, and it’s easy to see why. Several trails lead to beaches, through temperate rain forests, cape overlooks. creek crossings, and rugged headlands. Hundreds of surfers flock to Short Sands Beach on any pleasant day.
There are four parking areas along HWY 101 with access to the 2,484 acres of Oswald West. The Northernmost parking spot gives immediate access to the 2.3 mile Cape Falcon Trail, which is the best area to start a trail run in Oswald West. The Cape Falcon trail has rolling hills, but nothing extremely difficult. Kerwin Creek is the first creek crossing, 1/2 mile into the run, followed by Blumenthal Creek and the Blumenthal Falls a mile later. This section of the trail features the beauty of the giant Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce, and Western Hemlock trees. It’s not unusual to climb over and around many downed trees, and the trails are subject to year-round wind storms.
Just after Blumenthal Creek is a view of Short Sands Beach to the North; not much farther is the end of the Cape Falcon Trail and the beginning of the Arch Cape to Cape Falcon Trail. There is an out and back trail to the Cape Falcon Lookout worth the junction’s short journey.
Continue north along the 6.5 mile Arch Cape to Cape Falcon Trail. The trail climbs the next two miles over 700 feet. The trails are rooty and muddy but worth the ascent. The only views of the summit are of the trees and fauna of the Oregon Coastal Forest. The trail then drops significantly over the next mile, where it crosses Columbia Street in the park. Parking is not allowed next to the trail here. The trail continues in the forest north near HWY 101 and crosses Mason Creek.
The trail eventually crosses HWY 101 and runs on the east side of the highway for a mile to keep hikers away from the Cape Falcon Shoreside Marine Protected area. This section of the trail is fairly unremarkable and only worth doing for extra mileage. The trail will go over Arch Cape Creek and to the beach. Otherwise, turn around at the highway and make the way back to the Cape Falcon trailhead.