Neahkahnie Mountain has an undeniably stunning view of the Oregon Coast, from Manzanita all the way to Tillamook Bay. Formed from volcanic flows over 17 million years ago, it rises over 1600 feet above the beach. According to legends, the native coastal Indians considered the mountain “the place of supreme deity”. I didn’t find it to be a spiritual awakening as some hikers do, but the views are breath taking and well worth the effort.
The trailhead is on the north side of the road and well marked with signage and a map of the area. It immediately takes off uphill through a dense forest of Doug fir and Sitka spruce. There are pockets of old growth, but mostly it’s a second growth forest creating a lush shady trail full of ferns, salal, yellow wood violets, wild lily of the valley, soloman’s seal and giant trilliums. It’s lovely and blooming and keeps us distracted as we climb the steep switchbacks, and there are lots of them. Without these hairpin turns, ascending and descending this mountain would be difficult for sure. Generally, it’s a very nice path, but there are a few places along the trail where the thick roots of the trees are exposed, making it a little difficult to maneuver.
There are a few clearings along the trail where we catch glimpses of Nehalem Bay and the town of Wheeler.
After about a mile the trail levels out on a ridge top and we cross over a forest service road that leads to a radio tower. The trail continues on the other side of the road and around the wooded backside of the mountain. Just in time, there’s a nice little bench to take a short rest after all those switchbacks. Did I mention there were a lot of switchbacks??
Continuing along the north side of the mountain, the trail becomes a bit steeper and rocky, and I imagine this would be the most difficult part for children should they attempt it, and for some dogs too. As we climb closer to the top, we can hear the roar of the ocean and the trees begin to thin and all of sudden we are rewarded with sweeping views of the Oregon coast. That’s what we came for and we were not disappointed. were lucky to have a good weather day and see all the way to Tillamook Bay. At a rocky basalt pinnacle we scrambled to the top to get an even better view. The wild flower show on top was a bonus. After enjoying the view, we returned the way we came, and it’s all downhill!!
How to get there:
From Salem, head west on HWY 22 over the Willamette River towards the coast. After approximately 30 miles and just before Spirit Mountain Casino (sorry to use that as a land mark), take a right onto Hebo Road, following signs for Tillamook and the Oregon Coast HWY, US 101. When you reach the town of Hebo, turn right onto HWY 101. Continue following signs for Tillamook. Drive through Tillamook, continuing north for approximately 29 more miles. Look for the brown hiking sign between milepost 41 and 42, just 2 miles north of Manzanita. Take a right up a very rutted road and in less than half mile you’ll see cars parked on the shoulder and a trail sign on the north side.
Distance and Elevation gain:
The trail is only 3 miles round trip, but it is a steep one. You’ll climb 900 feet to the summit viewpoint. If you want to lengthen the hike, and you are able to arrange a car shuttle, you can park the second car at a viewpoint pullout located .2 miles south of milepost 40. This will lengthen your hike to a little over 5 miles.
Fees and Permits:
There are no fees or permits required and it is a dog friendly hike however, it is steep and I would not recommend it for children or for anyone not prepared for a physical workout. It’s open year round and if you are in search of a beautiful flower display, now is a great time to go.