One of our favorite things about visiting any coastline is the opportunity to see and tour lighthouses. There is just something so magical and haunting about a lighthouse. Suffice it to say, whenever we find ourselves near one, we can’t resist getting as close to it as possible.
We realized mid-trip that Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint was very close to where we are and so we opted to stop by and see it. There are a few things to be seen at this stop and we enjoyed every bit of it.
Upon arrival, we immediately headed towards the lighthouse, which is within reasonable walking distance from the parking lot. There is a wide, paved trail making it possible for wheelchairs and strollers to have access to all parts of the park. It should be noted though that some parts of the path are steep and so it could prove a little bit more exhausting than you’d prefer. However, the sights are not out of reach.
Along the trail leading to the lighthouse there are scenic viewpoints and benches which you are welcome to rest upon while taking in the view. The view is not too shabby. You’ll want to take a few moments to savor the beauty of the Oregon coast while you are here. It is absolutely stunning!
The lighthouse at Cape Meares was built in 1889 and commissioned on January 1, 1890. It is the shortest lighthouse in the State of Oregon, measuring in at only 38 feet high. You don’t realize this as you are walking up to it, as only the top is visible from the trail.
When you reach the bottom of the trail and are standing next to the lighthouse, its size seems almost comical. As long as it does its job well though, size is not really important. (But can we say that it’s “cute”? Because it is.)
You are welcome to visit the inside where there is a (very small) interpretive center and a video you can watch which provides a history of the lighthouse and its keepers. There are regular tours up to the top of the lighthouse but, unfortunately, children under the age of 5 are not allowed to the top. Not wanting to split our family up, we opted to watch the video and hit the trails instead of only one parent and a couple of the kids getting the pleasure of seeing out from the top. (We were a bit bummed about that. We can certainly understand concerns but if kids can managed it would be nice to have access to such things!)
After wrapping up our time at the lighthouse, we made our way to the infamous Octopus Tree which can be found in the opposite direction from the parking lot. The Octopus Tree is a massive Sitka spruce with branches growing like tentacles (hence the name). It was designated to be an Oregon Heritage Tree in 2009 and we think it deserves the prestige. No one can say with certainty why this tree looks the way it does but one theory is that it was an “Indian Ceremonial Tree”, serving as a gathering site for coastal tribes. As the site’s website explains:
“Typical of such specially chosen trees, the branches of this spruce were forced downward toward a horizontal position when they were still flexible, finally extending about 16 feet from the base. When allowed to resume vertical growth, each branch reached skyward to more than 100 feet, creating the distinctive shape.”
We found it to be quite fascinating!
The Octopus Tree is one that you will no doubt feel an urge to climb but, alas, there is fencing around it with a request that it not be touched owing to its historic status and age. (It is thought to be around 250 years old. Which, in America, is really, really old.)
There are no day use fees at this park so you can feel free to visit at your leisure and make the trip last as long as you like. Learn more about the site by visiting the official website which also provides a walking trail map for your convenience.
Is this stop worth it? We think so!