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North Coast Tide Pools

Posted May 29th, 2008 in Family Outing, Outside of Portland, travel, Wildlife

We treated Tony’s Mom to a late Mother’s Day gift by taking her to Yachats last weekend. The weather wasn’t perfect – and goodness the gas was pricey!- but the trip was still wonderful. We have been to the coast in Winter, Fall, Spring, and Summer and it never disappoints.

This weekend, we did a lot of hiking (the rain is no problem for many of the hikes in the area such as Cummins Creek) , the Yachats farmer’s market was in full swing, we started every morning at our favorite local hot spot, and we went tide pooling in the area.

There are great tide pools in the Yachats area. We commonly see chitons, snails, limpets, barnacles, sea stars, mussels, anemones, crabs and more! We also love Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area near Newport for tide pools. But there are options closer to home – no full tank required!

  • Ecola State Park – About two miles north of Cannon Beach. This area also offers access to the Clatsop Loop Trail which connects with the Tillamook Head Trail that we explored this February – a good trail for older children due to the elevation gain and length.
  • Oswald West State Park – About 10 miles south of Cannon Beach just off the 101. This is also one of our favorite camping spots and there is some great hiking in the area including a hike to Cape Falcon (about 3.5 miles round trip, uphill getting to the top but still a nice family hike).
  • Cape Meares Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge – 10 miles west of Tillamook on the Three Capes Loop. Added bonuses are touring the lighthouse and the vistas in the area.
  • Cape Lookout – About 18 miles south of Tillamook also on the Three Capes Loop. There is a family-friendly campground at this park as well.

If you are going to explore tide pools, be ready to get wet, wear some sensible shoes – maybe even some gloves, and be ready to do some scrambling on rocks to find some wonderful surprises! Consult a tide table and plan your exploration to coincide with low tide – which means being on the coast in the morning. Watch out for exposed animals as you walk along. For the best viewing, head for the lowest tide pools that are closest to the ocean. In the lowest pools, you are likely to see the most activity as well as the greatest variety of animals. But be mindful of the tide location and of the ocean at all times – don t let yourself get stranded or surprised by a rogue wave.

When viewing the pools, tread lightly and be respectful of the animals. Don t pry any animals from their locations. A gentle touch on a sea star by a curious little girl (or excited adult) is not entirely out of line but try to avoid touching of the animals as much as possible.

Also, these are great areas for a picnic, so pack a meal to enjoy once your exploring is over. When you are ready to go, leave everything where you find it – except for garbage! Pack out any trash that you find (or any trash that you brought). It is never too early to instill some outdoor ethics in your kids.

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Comments (3 so far)

  1. When I lived in Eugene we regularly hiked the Cummins Cr Trail, making a loop through Cape Perpetua and past the huckleberry bushes back to the car. The old growth is phenomenal, especially at the top of the ridge and it’s hikeable all year round. In fact, we went most often in the winter, when trails in the Cascades were closed due to snow. There is something so magical about coastal hikes in the misty rain. Somehow it seems to suit the habitat and scenery better.

    Thanks for the tidepool recommendations!


  2. milagros
    June 4th, 2008
    12:09 pm

    You are welcome Melissa!

    Another shorter family hike in the area on a rainy or misty day is the Big Spruce Hike. The trail head is near the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center.


  3. [...] Info about northern Oregon coast tide pools from a very family-centric website [...]