The coastal town of Florence, Oregon, population 8,500, is situated in the central portion of the state where the Siuslaw River flows into the Pacific Ocean. In the charming Old Town district, Bay Street runs parallel to the river where locally-owned restaurants and shops are housed in historic buildings. In the summertime, brilliant flowers rise beside the sidewalks and overflow from pots hanging from street lamps. Strolling the street with an ice cream in hand from the bridge down to the wooden docks is an ideal way to soak in the atmosphere.
Hikes near Florence, Oregon
The appealing Old Town isn’t the only draw in Florence, however. In addition to the standard coastline lure, the region boasts massive sand dunes, babbling streams and picture-perfect lighthouses. Both state and national parks abound, providing abundant access to nature via trails and lookout points. Intent on sampling the varied landscapes, we found three easy hikes near Florence, Oregon. One led to flowing waterfalls, another down to an expansive (yet hidden) beach and the third through dense forest to the dramatic cliffs of the coast.
Sweet Creek Falls Trail
Within moments of beginning the hike at the Homestead Trailhead, we could already hear the gurgling water of Sweet Creek rushing over rocks towards the Siuslaw River. Under towering evergreens, we quickly met up with the creek – a series of small, tumbling waterfalls – and followed the water’s edge. The easy trail, a combination of dirt and raised walkways, stretches 2.2 miles and ends at the cascading Sweet Creek Falls. Along the way, side paths lead down to the water where hikers are welcome to cool their feet or take a swim.
The Homestead Trailhead is about a half-hour drive inland from Florence. From Florence, take Highway 126 to Mapleton; turn right to cross the bridge (staying on 126); take the first right onto Sweet Creek Road. Follow Sweet Creek Road 11 miles to the Homestead Trailhead. No fee to park; restrooms. The Sweet Creek Falls Trail is part of the Siuslaw National Forest. Click here for a trail map. Click here for more information.
Hobbit Beach Trail
The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hobbit Beach Trailhead is located on the west side of Highway 101. Once on the trail, we were enveloped in a surreal enchanted-like forest. Following the path to the right, we were surrounded by the twisted, moss-covered trees that line the narrow path. Sunlight filtered through the high canopy, illuminating the moss and making it seem as if we were looking through a green-tinted lens. The zigzagging .4-mile path descends to a natural tunnel that opens onto a wide, secluded beach.
The Hobbit Beach Trailhead is about a half-hour drive north of Florence. From Florence, take Highway 101 past the Sea Lion Cave and Heceta Head Lighthouse to Mile Marker 177. Pull into the easily missed, unmarked parking area on the east side of the highway. Use caution when crossing the highway and find the marked trailhead slightly to the north. No fee to park; no restrooms. The Hobbit Trail is part of the Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. Click here for a trail map. Click here for more information (scroll to bottom for map).
Heceta Head Trail
Starting at the same trailhead for Hobbit Beach, we followed the trail to the left toward Heceta Head Lighthouse. The 1.5-mile trail dips into a gorge then rises over a hill before descending to the lighthouse. While hiking through the gorge, we had open views of the surrounding forest and the sound of the cars on the highway rapidly dissipated. As we crested the hill, the forest grew dark and dense, most of the sunlight blocked by the thick, wind-carved foliage. Lookout points offered a chance to glimpse the rugged landscapes below. On the final approach to Heceta Head, the elevated path gave us a bird’s eye view of the lighthouse. Volunteers give free tours and a brief history of the lighthouse, which allowed us time to rest before making the return trek to the car.
The Heceta Head Trailhead is about a half-hour drive north from Florence. From Florence, take Highway 101 past the Sea Lion Cave and Heceta Head Lighthouse to Mile Marker 177. Pull into the easily missed, unmarked parking area on the east side of the highway. Use caution when crossing the highway and find the marked trailhead slightly to the north. No fee to park; no restrooms. The Hobbit Trail is part of the Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. Click here for a trail map (note: the trail is not labeled on map; the dotted line from the lighthouse north to the parking symbol is the Heceta Head Trail). Click here for more information (scroll to bottom for map).
Our top tips for your trip to Florence, Oregon
There are numerous beautiful hikes in Oregon – it’s difficult to choose! For an easy in-and-out hike just a short drive from Florence (about 2.5 hours) try the incredible Tamolitch Blue Pool Hike.
Where To Stay
There are many hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out top-rated hotels for your upcoming trip.
Before You Go
- Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! Be sure to have a good city map prior to arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
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