Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heceta Head Lighthouse – and the Heceta Head hike

Heceta Head Lighthouse on the point; the Keepers house on the right. I’m not certain if what I see out my window as I write this is fog or low clouds, but it is mighty gloomy – which makes me appreciate even more the fabulous weather we had yesterday for our hike along the coast.

About 5 miles north of the Florence Elks RV Park, just past the Sea Lion Caves, is a beautiful view of what I imagine is one of Oregon’s most photographed lighthouses, Heceta Head Lighthouse.  We’ve admired it every time we drive Highway 101 heading north, so decided to visit it yesterday, then take the Heceta (pronounced Ha–SEE–Ta) Head trail over the headland to the beach on the other side.

Lightkeepers house, now a bed and breakfast

As you can see from the photos, we had a beautiful day for sightseeing – nothing but blue sky and temperatures in the 70’s.  We got a reasonably early start, hoping we’d be able to find space in the usually jam-packed pullout that affords the best view of the lighthouse.  We snapped our photos, looked at (and listened to) the sea lions lounging on the rocks far below, then continued north to the lighthouse.

From the parking lot (Oregon State Parks, with a $3 day use fee) at sea level, a broad gravel trail leads 1/2 mile uphill to the lighthouse, past the Keeper’s House, which is now a bed and breakfast.  After taking endless photos of the lovely “cottage” with it’s million dollar views, we continued the short distance up to the lighthouse – and took more, and more, and more photos.  Thanks goodness for digital cameras!

Mushrooms along the Heceta Head trail.We finally turned our attention away from the views and the mesmerizing waves to search out the trailhead.  From the lighthouse, the Heceta Head trail switchbacks up the headlands through deep, mossy forest.  Decaying evergreen needles and rhododendron leaves cover a springy path; dense undergrowth provides cover for small snakes, frogs, and birds, and a humid habitat for an amazing variety of mushrooms!

After a mile and a half – first WAY up, then WAY down - we arrived at a junction with the Hobbit Trail, which continues half a mile downhill to the long, nearly deserted beach on the north side of the headland.  “Nearly deserted” describes the entire hike – in the five or so miles we traveled on foot, we saw ten other people (and two happy, happy dogs). 

Here are a few more photos from the day – I had a very hard time narrowing it to so few!

Devil's Elbow, near the Keeper's House Devil’s Elbow, below the Lighthouse. View from Lighthouse trail to the beach

This is the view from the trail over the top of the Headlands down to the beach on the north side.
Odel on the BeachOdel walking on the beach north of Heceta Head.  The lighthouse is on the other side of the headland in the distance. Odel on the Hobbit Trail

Odel in the tunnel of trees on the Hobbit Trail.


  1. Really enjoyed seeing the great pictures! Thanks for the post!

  2. What a beautiful day! Great to read your descriptions that bring it to life with the great photos.

  3. Wonderful photos...can't wait to see it in person. Bobbie