Last week, I got a call from my cousin who lives in Arizona. He told me that he was coming up to Oregon for a week around Christmas, so he wanted to know if I’d be free to hang out while he’ll be in the area.
I told him I could take some time off work since I haven’t seen him in a few years and I asked him if there was anything, in particular, he wanted to do while he was here.
He said he really wanted to go hiking on the coast, as he lives in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and, quite unsurprisingly, doesn’t enjoy taking long walks in 100-degree heat or driving an hour up the mountain to Payson for a slightly cooler hike.
I’ll take any opportunity to go visit the coast, so I immediately agreed. He told me he’d be bringing his wife and dog, so the hike would need to be pet-friendly and under 15 miles.
I was a little shocked (not about the dog part, that’s reasonable) because he got married without telling the family and was planning to surprise us at Christmas, but I promised to not reveal his secret and went to work coming up with a list of hikes.
Top Dog-Friendly Oregon Coast Hikes
1. Drift Creek Falls Trail
Drift Creek Falls Trail is just over three miles and is located close to Lincoln City. I’m a big fan of waterfalls, so any dog-friendly trail with a waterfall gets an automatic five stars from me.
I also listed this one first because I love a good suspension bridge and the 240-feet one found on the trail is one of the most beautiful in the state, with great views of the water and the surrounding forest.
The trail is downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back with an elevation gain of about 500 feet.
2. Ecola State Park
I love Cannon Beach but most of my friends’ dogs get a bit overwhelmed by the large number of people there, so we prefer to go to nearby Ecola State Park, which is just as beautiful and much less crowded.
There are several hiking trails accessible from the park or you and your dog can simply walk along the beach. Either way, you’ll see some amazing scenery and have a wonderful time.
Like all state parks in Oregon, your dog will have to be on a leash of not more than six feet in length at all times while you’re hiking here, which might seem like a negative if your dog prefers to run free, but it’s definitely for the best.
3. Tillamook Head
Okay, I realize I can’t get away with just saying “go to Ecola State Park,” so I’ll name my favorite of the trails you can access there. The Tillamook Head trail runs a little over six miles and ends at Indian Beach, another one of my favorite locations.
I recommend going in late spring to early summer, as winter storm damage can sometimes cause parts of the trail to be temporarily closed for maintenance, which is actually the case as I’m writing this.
Indian Beach is a great place to see migrating grey whales in the spring and California sea otters during the fall, although I wouldn’t let your pet get too close to the water or beached otters, as they carry a bacterial infection that can infect dogs and humans.
4. Eel Lake Trail
The Eel Lake Trail in William M. Tugman State Park is the perfect place for a bit of a longer hike, coming in at just over six miles each way. It is still a relatively easy adventure, however.
The trail is sometimes a bit overgrown around the second mile, with poison oak leaves on the sides of the trail, depending on how recently someone from the State Park Service has been out to maintain it.
There are a lot of mosquitos here as well, so you’ll want some insect repellant while you’re here. That said, the amazing views and the opportunity to have a picnic at the end of the trail make the journey well worth it.
5. John Dellenback Dunes Trail
Near Lakeside, Oregon, you’ll find the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and the John Dellenback Dunes Trail, which is perfect for a moderate 2.7-mile hike with your dog over the sand.
If your dog doesn’t like bicycles or cyclists, this is the perfect trail, as bikes are not allowed anywhere on the trail. If your dog doesn’t mind spending the night, there’s a campground here, with a few sites actually on the dunes themselves.
This should probably get an asterisk, however, because dogs are only allowed on the trail from September through March. That said, it’s much less trafficked outside of the summer anyway, making it well worth the wait.
6. Devil’s Punch Bowl Trail
It’s a little less than a mile long, so it feels weird to call the Devil’s Punch Bowl Trail a hike, but I enjoy shorter walks from time to time, so I’ll include it on the list.
The trail ends on the beach, which features tidepools, collapsed caves, and many surfers, if you’re like me and enjoy watching people surf without having to do it yourself!
It was originally named “Satan’s Cauldron” because of the water action around the rock formations, which resembles a punch bowling being knocked around violently. By contrast, the trail itself is a lot more peaceful.
7. Sweet Creek Falls Trail
Sweet Creek Falls Trail in Mapleton is one of the best hiking experiences for dogs for several reasons. First, it’s only 2.2 miles each way, which means healthy dogs of all ages will have enough energy to complete the hike.
Second, the trail is not part of the State Parks system, which means if you’re both comfortable with it, your dog can roam free without a leash, although you’ll want to keep safety in mind if your dog isn’t the most friendly towards other dogs.
There are four trailheads to choose from if you’d prefer a shorter hike as well, although if you’re looking for the full length, you’ll want Homestead Trailhead. There are several wooden bridges on this trail, which is why it’s one of my favorites.
8. Giant Spruce Trail
Down in Cape Perpetua outside the town of Yachats, you’ll find the Giant Spruce Trail, which is actually a bit misleading because you’ll also find alder and cedar trees here, too. There is one particular giant Sitka spruce on the trail for which it is named.
There are two hikes here, one of them about 1.9 miles and the other about 4.2. Some people choose to end their journey at the giant spruce and others continue the full length of the trail.
This is also a great photography opportunity, both for pictures of your furry friend and of the tree itself, which is 185 feet tall, 40 feet in circumference, and over 500 years old!
These are just a few of the best dog-friendly hiking trails on the Oregon Coast. I tried to keep most of them around ten miles or fewer, although I’ve read that the average dog can do up to 20.
That might just be my bias because most of my friends have either older dogs or puppies that don’t have as much energy and wouldn’t have a good time if they were asked to hike all day, but dog owners will surely know more about their pets than I will.
You’ll want to have plenty of bags for disposing of your dog’s “business” after they’re done and to keep them on a leash if you’re going through a state park or another trail that requires them.
Finally, please remain vigilant while taking your dog out, as there are many wild animals that live in the state. Any of these areas, particularly the forest trails, have the possibility of a bear encounter, so you’ll want to be prepared in case one appears.
No matter which of these wonderful trails you choose to take your dog, you’ll be in for some amazing scenery on the Oregon Coast. We can’t wait to welcome you on your next exciting hiking adventure!