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Hike Cascade Head trail to Harts Cove

(With Joan, Jeff, Al)

Round trip 5.4 miles, Elevation change 900 feet.


Click here for TOPO.EXE v3.4.3 TPO file.

Click here for MAPSOURCE.EXE v6.9.1 MPS file.

Click here for GPX text file.

GPS data includes tracks and waypoints for parking, water crossing and view points.


Trip Report 12/28/05 Wed
Why do all my hikes turn into adventures? Maybe it's the crack o' noon starts in the middle of winter....  Joan and I are staying at Al & Judy's beach condo south of Lincoln city for a little post-Christmas relaxation. It's right (RIGHT) on the beach! It's so ON THE BEACH that when the winter storm waves roll up at high tide, they wash up hardly 30 feet away from the back porch! It would be scary if I had equity which I don't so it's simply spectacular.

Even later than noon... we're finally packed up and leaving for the short drive to the Harts Cove trail on Cascade Head. We picked it because it's pretty and short - the weather has been pretty nice but if it starts to rain in earnest we'll be able to get out quick. We also picked it because next Sunday the area will be closed for 6 months (Jan 1st to July 15th) by the Nature Conservancy to protect the Silverspot butterfly.

Didn't see any of these...

So... always an adventure. Even before we reach the trailhead we come upon a freshly fallen doug fir across the approach road. Of course it's an option to just park here and hike in the extra mile or so and in fact there are several cars parked right here. But I hate walking roads. The tree is actually about five feet off the ground and while we're cogitating a low riding sedan comes toward us from the other side and ducks neatly underneath.

My Toyota 4Runner won't fit, but WE however are three strapping (not so young) lads and a lady - so I suggest we simply lift the tree another couple feet into the air and have Joan drive through. Well, that works and we're on our way again, and yes, we did consider that by the time we got back the tree might settle lower and become stuck or otherwise impassible... we just decided to ignore that. (maybe another reason why they turn into adventures...)

The trailhead parking lot is empty - it's 2pm after all. (Hey, it's only 5.5 miles - how long can it take ;-)

This hike is pretty much all down hill or flat, all the way to the meadow area and the final harts cove view. It's a bit steep at the start but otherwise a pleasant path wandering through big western hemlock and some older (150 year old) and bigger Sitka spruce. The trail cuts through a down Sitka spruce where Jeff counted over 300 rings!

Al, Joan, Jeff. Click to enlarge this image

The author


There are two stream crossings: the first with a bridge at .5 miles, the second at 1.75 miles without - it has been raining a lot the last week so the creek was pretty much as full as it gets making for a tricky but manageable crossing on logs and debris.

About 3:15pm we break out of the wood into the big meadow on the western most part of the point and follow the tiny path as it wanders toward the ocean. An eagle soars behind the tops of the trees to our left! A bit farther and we finally get some interesting views to the south. It's a very grey day with low clouds and rain squalls in the distance. It's about an hour after high tide and the big cove to the south is filled with boiling white and huge wave trains are rolling in. In the distance we can just make out "Two arches rock".

click to enlarge this image

Two Arches rock

Harts Cove overlook. Click to enlarge.

Another five minutes and we reach the "cosy" overlook into Harts Cove. This is an incredible place. It is small and 'V' shaped, about 200 feet across at the mouth and guarded by vertical basalt cliffs all around. It too is filled with boiling white water - not much beach anywhere. The wave trains crash against the cliff walls opposite us looking like spilt milk everywhere and the waves in the center get funneled down to the point of the 'V' where they finally explode on the cobblestones under the waterfall.  To the left is an 40 foot vertical sheer rock face with a cool little rivulet falling out of the ferns and emerald moss. It's all quite a contrast to placid blue sky, summer time pictures I'd seen before.

Harts Cove. Click to enlarge this image

Spilt milk

We stop here for a while to eat a late lunch and just take in our surrounding. This really IS a cool spot. Jeff and I ponder the problem of how one might get to the base of the waterfall - probably not today. On the way in, at 1.25 miles is a small not very exciting view spot looking north through the trees toward the cove. From here you might (MIGHT) be able to follow a very faint trail/bushwack mostly west out to the point on the south side of the cove and then scramble on (wet) rocks and around cliffs to get into the cove. A rope and knowledge how to use it would be helpful. Easier might be to simply approach from the bigger cove to the south and figure out how to get around/over the point that devides it from Harts Cove. Oh well, another day.

Looking north. Click to enlarge.

Jeff takes off to explore to the north while the rest of us finish eating. It's about 4pm when Al and Joan (the prudent ones) start back while I follow a very faint trail north to explore and see if I can find Jeff.

Out in the middle of the meadow there is an obvious grassy approach to basalt ledges down by the water but I pass that up to meet him a little farther along at a neat spot with a beautiful view to the north. He says he went down to the ledges I'd just seen but it wasn't clear you could get anywhere else from there. He's heading back - I stay to take some pics and eventually follow. I pause where the trail starts uphill through the meadow and turn to look out at the ocean and enjoy this place a bit more before I leave... just in time to watch a 30 foot (?) swell completely swallow a rocky island just beyond the ledges. It crashes into unseen cliffs and rocks below me sending geysers of white spray straight up. Pretty spectacular!

Click to enlarge.

Time to cruise. I catch up with Jeff at the top of the meadow and we catch up with Al and Joan just as they have finished reversing the creek crossing. Al has some good news and some bad news. The good news is they saw three more eagles as they were hiking out of the meadow. The bad news is that Joan fell on wet wood and twisted her knee pretty badly crossing the creek. She says she's ok but takes me up on my offer to carry her pack. Whenever Jeff and I hike, headlamps are always in order and soon we have them out. Joan does ok and about an hour and 2 ibuprophen later we reach the car.

Four hours for the trip, including lunch and exploring. We pull the same trick without problem to get past the down tree across the road on the way out. I wonder if we were the last hikers to see the cove before the access was closed on Sunday.

Related links:

MAB (Man and Biosphere) Cascade Head description

The Nature Conservancy - Cascade Head

The Oregon Silverspot butterfly


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Last modified: 01/17/11