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Hiking is one of the best things to do on the Oregon coast! Miles of trails stretch out along the coastline – and we discovered a few of the state’s top hikes near Florence, Oregon. Both state and national parks abound in the area around Florence, providing abundant access to nature via trails and lookout points. If you are wondering what to do in Florence, Oregon, lace up your shoes and head out on our three recommended hikes!
Looking for more things to do in Florence, Oregon? Check out our top tips for things to do, places to eat and where to stay at the end of the post!
Hikes near Florence, Oregon
Trekkers who go hiking near Florence, Oregon won’t be disappointed; the scenery is simply stunning. The area features massive sand dunes, mossy forests, babbling streams, sandy beaches and picture-perfect lighthouses – all of which are accessible via hiking trails.
Visitors who want to see the varied landscapes can follow in our footsteps to three easy hikes near Florence, Oregon. Hikers will discover hidden beaches, dense forests, dramatic cliffs and flowing waterfalls.
#1 Sweet Creek Falls Trail
Sweet Creek Falls is one of the best hikes near Florence, Oregon that is off the coast.
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.
How To Get To Sweet Creek Falls
MAP. 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.
#2 Tahkenitch Creek Trail
The coastal Tahkenitch Creek Trail features many unique aspects of the diverse Oregon coast – from wooded trails to sandy dunes.
The trail consists of two loops and long stretching path that leads south to a wide, flat beach (where Snowy Plover birds nest during the summer months). There are options to detour onto other trails (the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail to the east over the top of the dunes or to the south to Threemile Lake).
We started the Tahkentich Creek hike without a specific route in mind – but the beach was our destination. As we headed south toward the beach, we stayed on the east side of the loops, but then took the western side of the loops on our return trip. The total distance of our hike was about 5 miles.
Throughout the hike, the path interchanged from shaded dirt trails through coastal forest to sandy paths that followed the edge of dunes. We found it somewhat challenging to hike through the soft sand (it would have been easier if we had hiking poles!), but the hike itself was fairly easy with little elevation change.
How To Get To Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead
MAP. The Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead is about 13 miles south of Florence on the west side of the 101. The parking lot is well marked with signs – and a Recreation Pass is required. The Day Use permit costs $5 and can be purchased online. Note: There is no Fee Box at the Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead, but there is one just about a mile south at the Tahkenitch Campground and Tahkenitch Dunes Trailhead. (Just remember to bring a pen and $5 cash or check for payment and to complete the form!) Click here here for a trail map; or click here for more trail information (including pass info!).
#3 Heceta Head Trails: Hobbit Beach Trail, Lighthouse Trails, Valley Trail and China Creek Loop
Heceta Head, home to the famous Heceta Lighthouse and Hobbit Beach, has amazing trails. Each trail can be completed as an out-and-back…or the incredible hikes can be combined into one longer trail. We detail each option below (and include a helpful map, too!).
Hobbit Trail Oregon
The Hobbit Trail is one of the easiest hiking trails near Florence, Oregon – and also one of the most popular.
The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hobbit Beach Trailhead is located on the west side of Highway 101. Once on the Oregon Coast Hobbit 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 .5-mile path descends steeply to a natural tunnel that opens onto the wide, secluded Hobbit Beach.
How To Get To Hobbit Trail Oregon
MAP. The Hobbit Trail in Oregon 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. (After passing the Lighthouse, begin slowing down and put your right-hand turn signal on if there are cars behind you. When the road stops curving, you are almost to the parking lot.)
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, hikers can follow the trail to the left toward Heceta Head Lighthouse. The 1.5-mile trail dips into a gorge then rises over two hills before descending to the lighthouse. Significantly more challenging than Hobbit Trail, we think it is well worth the effort!
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 offer a chance to glimpse the rugged landscapes below – and we highly recommend making the short detours. On the final approach to Heceta Head, the elevated path gives a bird’s eye view of the lighthouse.
Volunteers give free lighthouse tours – at 11:00am and 3:00pm – and a brief history of the lighthouse, which allowed us time to rest before making the return trek to the car.
How To Get To Haceta Head Trailhead
Use the same parking lot as listed above for the Hobbit Trail near Florence, Oregon. Alternatively, visitors can park at the lighthouse (which we provide a bit more information about in a minute!).
Click here for a trail map (note: there is another trail labeled Heceta Lighthouse Trail on map and marked in red; the black 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).
Valley Trail and China Creek Loop
The Valley trailhead is located on the south end of the parking lot for the Hobbit and Lighthouse trails. While most visitors are eager to embark on hikes to the beach or the lighthouse, the Valley Trail goes relatively unnoticed.
We, too, were so enamored with the Lighthouse and Hobbit Trail that we put off hiking the Valley Trail and connecting China Creek Loop for way too long. In hindsight, it is a shame, because the hikes are absolutely gorgeous – and very easy, too.
The Valley Trail slowly descends into a forested valley passing by streams, ponds and meadows. After about 1 mile, the China Creek Loop breaks off to the right (it is well marked with a signpost!). Hikers can complete the half-mile loop and then return to the parking lot via the Valley Trail.
How To Get To Valley (and China Creek) Trailhead
Use the same parking lot as listed above for the Hobbit Trail in Florence, Oregon. Alternatively, hikers can use the Carl G. Washburne Memorial Park Day Use parking lot (north of the Hobbit Trail lot, on the west side of the 101 – MAP); then complete the hike in reverse from our notated instructions.
Click here for a trail map (you will find it at the bottom of the document).
Combine the Florence, Oregon Hiking Trails: Valley Trail + China Creek Loop + Valley Trail + Beach Trek + Hobbit Trail
While each of the above trails are fabulous, Oregon hikers who want to embark on a longer trek can combine three Oregon coast hikes into one long hike.
We think the best way to combine the hikes is by starting on the Valley Trail. Hikers can decide to include the China Creek Loop or bypass it (but we vote for including it!). Either way, complete the Valley Trail to the Carl G Washburne Campsite. There, cross Highway 101 (the road does get busy, so be patient and wait for a break in traffic) to the Carl G Washburne Day Use parking area.
Walk straight into the twisted grove of trees. At the end of the short trail are free restrooms – and a trail next to them on the left leads down to the beach (marked on the beach by a large 93 sign).
Walk south on the hard packed sand beach for about 1.5 miles toward Heceta Headland. Find the yellow 92 sign, which marks the tunnel trailhead for the Hobbit Trail. Make the inclined hike through the captivating nature and back to the 101 and the parking lot.
This route – our favored way to make the trek – is about 4 miles. We recommend hikers complete the hike counterclockwise, especially if the northerly winds are high on the beach, because this way they will be at your back.
Hikers who still have energy can continue hiking by completing the Heceta Head Trail to the Heceta lLighthouse from the end of the Hobbit Trail. This route will add another 3 miles to your hike.
Pro Tip: Because this route includes walking on the beach, we recommend looking at the tide charts prior to beginning the hike.
Alternate Combo Hike: Heceta Lighthouse Trail + Heceta Head Trail + Valley Trail + China Creek Loop + Beach Trek + Hobbit Trail + Heceta Head Trail +Heceta Lighthouse Trail
Rather than beginning at the Hobbit Beach Trailhead, trekkers will begin this hike along the Oregon Coast at the main entrance to the Heceta Lighthouse. (Parking information below.) This route is about 7.5 miles.
From the Heceta Lighthouse Trailhead, follow the wide, inclined path toward the lighthouse. Along this popular portion of the trail, there are phenomenal views of Cape Cove to the south. Just before arriving at the lighthouse, follow the ascending stairs into the forest; this marks the beginning of the Heceta Head Trail.
Stay on the path until it reaches the highway; cross the 101 and hop on the Valley Trail. Take the China Creek Loop and continue to the camping grounds. Cross the 101 again toward the beach and walk south on the beach to the Hobbit Trail (marked 93). At the end of the Hobbit Trek, follow the trail back to the lighthouse.
Before leaving, be sure to check out Cape Cove Beach. Visitors are free to climb over the rocks on the north end of the beach for spectacular views of the ocean. Peer into the narrow cove just below the lighthouse and look for Harbor Seals! Top Tip: If your visit coincides with low tide, be sure to check the tidal pools for bright orange and purple starfish!
Shorter Oregon Coast Hiking Trails from Heceta Head Lighthouse
If an almost 8-mile hike is too long, consider combining three trails – Lighthouse, Heceta Head and Hobbit Trail – for a 5-mile out-and-back hike. Start on the Lighthouse Trail, hook up with the Heceta Head Trail and merge onto the Hobbit Trail Oregon Coast path and complete the final half mile down to Hobbit Beach.
How To Get To Heceta Lighthouse Trailhead
MAP. From Florence, Oregon, follow the signs to the Heceta Lighthouse. When traveling north on the 101, Lighthouse visitors cross Cape Creek Bridge and make a right-hand turn onto Cape Creek Road, which curves back to the coast underneath the bridge. The parking lot, right on Cape Cove Beach, is a Day Use lot that requires a fee ($5 USD, paid via credit card at the machine).
If driving south on the 101 (coming from north of Florence), there is a right turn to Heceta Lighthouse that is well marked.
Heceta Head Hikes Map
There are numerous beautiful hikes in Oregon – on the coast and inland!
Coastal Hikes North of Florence, Oregon
We think one of the best Oregon Coast hikes that is further north is the Cape Lookout Trail. Located near Tillamook, the earthy trail provides stunning views.
Other popular Oregon Coast trails north of Florence are on Cape Perpetua. One trailhead is the starting point for several Cape Perpetua hikes; find more info here.
Hikes on the Coast South of Florence, Oregon
Traveling south on the 101 from Florence, near Reedsport, is Hall and Schuttpelz Lakes. The trek at Hall and Schuttpelz Lakes features lakeside dirt trails and sand dunes. The Siuslaw National Forest hiking trail is a great way to experience the diverse terrain of the region. The trail begins on Hall Lake which is bordered on the west by high sand dunes. Hikers can complete the circumference trail around Hall Lake and/or break off into the sand dunes to find Schuttpelz Lake. Use Wildwood Drive to find the trailhead. There is no fee to park; restrooms. Use this link for a Trail Map.
In Coos Bay, which is about an hour drive south of Florence, three state parks – Sunset Bay, Shore Acres and Cape Arago – are connected by an 8.5-mile shoreline trail. The hike climbs over bluffs with ocean and lighthouse views and descends to nearly secluded beaches. Completing the entire hike in an out-and-back fashion is a little ambitious, so we recommend breaking the hikes into different sections. For example, we parked at the Lighthouse Viewpoint and hiked north to Sunset Beach. Another popular section is from Arago Beach to the Simpson Reef Viewpoint.
Waterfall Hikes near Florence, Oregon
Sweet Creek Trail is the only Florence waterfall hike we have completed, but there are others that can be reached within a couple of hours.
The Kentucky Falls Trail features two streaming waterfalls, although fellow trekkers have said the road to the trailhead can be a bit challenging.
For another easy in-and-out Oregon hike just a short drive inland from Florence (about 2.5 hours) try the incredible Tamolitch Blue Pool Hike.
What You Will Need for Oregon Hikes
Make sure you are prepared for hiking in Oregon with these necessities!
While hiking boots are not necessary for our recommended easy hikes near Florence, Oregon, comfortable walking shoes are required. I have hiked the trails in Oregon in shoes by Columbia and Skechers (and I even hiked the Hobbit Beach trail in my Reef flip flops once…but don’t necessarily recommend it!). Kris prefers wearing these all-terrain shoes by Merrell when hiking in Oregon.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos – the coastline is so beautiful! 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 when hiking) 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!).
We don’t use hiking poles, but we saw many hikers with them (and, we have to admit, we were a little bit jealous!). These lightweight hiking poles are highly recommended by fellow hikers.
There are no clean, fresh water sources on any of the Oregon hikes that we recommend – so you need to bring plenty with you! For travelers, these collapsible water bottles are ideal!
Sunscreen and Hat (or Rain Coat!)
The sun is strong on the Oregon coast! Make sure to protect your skin during your hike. We recommend wearing sunscreen and wearing a wide-brimmed travel hat. And, if the weather is rainy (which it often is on the coast!), be sure to bring a lightweight rain coat for your hike!
If you are traveling to Oregon from abroad, be sure to invest in travel insurance before your trip. It is especially important when doing activities, like hiking. If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
More Things To Do in Florence, Oregon
While hiking in Florence, Oregon is one of our favorite things to do, it isn’t the only activity! While in town, make sure to check out other fun Florence, Oregon things to do.
Stroll through Old Town Florence, Oregon
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 downtown Florence, Oregon is 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.
Walk along Florence, Oregon Beaches
There are many more beaches in Florence, Oregon other than Hobbit Beach! We love the beaches near Florence because they are wide and flat – which makes them great for long beach walks. We think the best beach in Florence, Oregon is Heceta Beach, which stretches from the North Jetty north to the Driftwood Shores Hotel.
Top Tip: Looking for romantic Oregon coast things to do? Go on a horseback ride on the beach at sunset! You can book your ride with C&M Stables.
See the Sea Lions Cave
One of the fun things to do in Florence, Oregon with kids is to go see the Sea Lions. The natural cave is just 11 miles north of Florence and has been protected since 1932. Top Tip: The cave is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm and requires a ticket to enter.
More Florence, Oregon Attractions
Our favorite Florence activities are outdoors in nature, but other travelers might want to check out these area attractions.
There are two museums in Florence, Oregon: the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum and the Oregon Coast Military Museum.
Golf in Florence, Oregon
Visitors who want to golf in Florence can do so at two courses: Florence Golf Links (which also has a decent restaurant with kind staff) and Ocean Dunes.
Three Rivers Casino
Wondering what to do on the Oregon coast when it rains? Try your luck at the casino!
Shopping in Florence, Oregon
There are numerous boutique stores in Florence, Oregon in the historic Old Town. Along Highway 101, visitors will find many antique shops as well.
Fishing and Crabbing
Visitors who want to go fishing in Florence, Oregon can charter a boat. The best season for crabbing in Florence, Oregon is in the summer through the autumn.
Food in Florence, Oregon
Some of the best places to eat in Florence, Oregon are in the historic Old Town.
Our top pick for dining in Florence, Oregon is the Waterfront Depot. Located riverside, the restaurant is housed in a charming historic house. Top Tip: Order the signature dish: Crab-encrusted Halibut – it’s absolutely delicious!
Casual Pub Grub
For really good food in a relaxed atmosphere, head to Homegrown. The menu features healthy options, too. Best of all, they serve a range of locally produced craft beer…which pairs perfectly with any meal!
For more tips of where to eat in Florence, Oregon read fellow traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.
Bars in Florence, Oregon
For a small town, Florence has an abundance of fun places to drink. Our favorite spots for a good local beer are Traveler’s Cove (check out the outdoor riverside deck), the Beachcomber Tavern and also Homegrown.
Lodging in Florence, Oregon
Travelers wondering where to stay in Florence, Oregon have quite a few choices – from hotels to apartments to campgrounds.
Hotels in Florence, Oregon
Many of the hotels and motels in Florence, Oregon are located along Highway 101. However, most of the hotels get below-average reviews. We recommend staying in the Old Town at The River House Inn or renting an apartment on Airbnb. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Create your account using this link and save money on your first stay!) For a beachfront hotel, we think Driftwood Shores Resort offers nice rooms-with-a-view.
Start your search for top-rated hotels for your upcoming trip on Booking.com – like we do!
Florence, Oregon Camping
Surrounded by lush nature, there are many Florence, Oregon campgrounds for visitors who would rather camp than stay in a hotel. Alder Dune Campground, which is within the Siuslaw National Forest, is highly rated by fellow travelers for camping near Florence, OR.
Weather in Florence, Oregon
Florence, Oregon weather is temperate, with sunny and cool summers and cloudy and wet winters. The best time to visit Florence is in the summer and autumn – especially if hiking! Be cautious when hiking after it rains, as the trails (especially the Heceta Head Trail) can be very muddy and slippery.
Hikes near Florence, Oregon Map
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