Best Hikes in Siuslaw National Forest (OR)

Siuslaw National Forest Overview

The Siuslaw National Forest is situated within the Oregon Coast Range, a mountain range that runs north to south from the Columbia River to north central California. The forest is bordered on the east by the Willamette Valley and the west by the Pacific Ocean and is one of only two national forests located in the lower 48 states to claim oceanfront property. Marys Peak, the highest peak in the Coast Range at elevation 4,097′, is a prominent view west of Corvallis. Highlights include: Mary’s Peak, Oregon Dunes, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, and Sand Lake Recreation Area. Most of the Siuslaw’s trails are relatively short 1- 3 miles and easy day hikes, a few are up to 7 miles in length or connect to make a longer loop. The best hikes in Siuslaw National Forest are located below.

Nearest Metro AreaCorvallis, OR
Area Size634,207 acres
EstablishedJuly 1, 1908
Hiking Trails137 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Siuslaw National Forest

(*** = best hikes in Siuslaw National Forest)

Cape Lookout Trail*** – 4.8 miles out and back
Cape Lookout Oregon Coast
Cape Lookout Oregon Coast, Photo by John Miske

Just south of Tillamook, this awesome trail hikes through a lush old-growth forest along cliffs 400′ above the Pacific Ocean. The trail can be muddy at times but has little elevation gain so it is family-friendly. Try to plan your hike around any fog or rain that might hinder the amazing views! The trail is in Cape Lookout State Park, just west of Siuslaw National Forest.

Drift Creek Falls Trail #1378*** – 3.0 miles out and back
Drift Creek Falls Hiking Trail, Oregon
Drift Creek Falls Hiking Trail, Photo by Bonnie Moreland

Family friendly hike through a coastal forest, a 75 foot waterfall, and a suspension bridge 100 feet above the canyon floor. On the optional 1-mile North Loop Trail you can also access old-growth trees, vine maples, huckleberry and salmonberry bushes, and a variety of shrubs and ferns.

God’s Thumb via the Knoll*** – 4.8 miles out and back
God's Thumb Hike in OR
God’s Thumb Hike in OR, Photo by Jeff Hollett

Somewhat of a hidden gem as the trail is not listed on Siuslaw National Forest’s website even though it is within its boundaries. This hike climbs up a ridge known as the Knoll to the Thumb, the southern remnant of a basalt dike formed ages ago. The views of the cove below from the Thumb are outstanding and one of the more beautiful sights you will see along the Oregon coastline.

Harts Cove Trail #1303 – 5.4 miles out and back
Cascade Head from Harts Cove on the Siuslaw National Forest
Cascade Head From Harts Cove, Photo by U.S. Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

This scenic trail descends about 900 feet in elevation through a rainforest, crosses two seasonal creeks and ends at a prairie headland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Chitwood Falls cascades off the backside cliff at Hart’s Cove. An unseen cove to the south resounds with the barking of sea lions. *Closed annually from Jan. 1 – July 15*

Kentucky Falls Trail #1376 – 4.4 miles out and back

This trail descends through old growth Douglas fir. Hikers will reach Upper Kentucky Falls after the first 0.8 miles. Descending another 1.4 miles, the trail ends at an observation deck overlooking Lower Kentucky Falls, an incredible 100 foot twin falls at the confluence of Kentucky Creek and Smith River. The hike back up to the trailhead gains 777 feet in 2.2 miles, making it a strenuous hike back out.

Nature Conservancy Trail to Cascade Head*** – 6.4 miles out and back
Cascade Head Summit, Siuslaw National Forest
Cascade Head Summit, Photo by U.S. Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

This beautiful hike climbs steeply through the forest until it reaches the top of the ridge. From here there are incredible views of the coast and Cascade Head. Mosquitos can be pretty bad so make sure you bring bug spray with you. *Most of the trail is closed annually from Jan. 1 – July 15*

Niagara Falls Trail #1379 – 2.0 miles out and back
Pheasant Creek Falls, Oregon
Pheasant Creek Falls, Photo by Bonnie Moreland

Follow the stream through lush foliage, then cross over four wooden bridges with a beautiful view of two 100-foot waterfalls, Niagara Falls and Pheasant Creek Falls. Niagara Falls is a plunge-type fall at 107 feet. Pheasant Creek Falls is a segmented type fall at 112 feet.

Saint Perpetua National Recreation Trail #1306 – 2.8 miles out and back
Cape Perpetua
Cape Perpetua, Photo by Kirt Edblom

From the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center, this stunning National Recreation Trail leads to one of the best viewpoints on the Oregon Coast. Most people drive the road up to the viewpoint, but you can earn your views by hiking up this scenic footpath. The trail ascends and switchbacks through an old-growth forest lead you to an awe-inspiring overlook where on clear days views extend nearly 40 miles out to sea, and along 70 miles of coastline.

Sweet Creek Falls Trail #1319 – 5.4 miles out and back
Sweet Creek Trail, Oregon
Sweet Creek Trail, Photo by Bonnie Moreland

In this Coast Range valley, the Sweet Creek Falls Trail follows the scenic cascading waters of Sweet Creek.  Hikers will encounter 11 waterfalls in all, each framed by mossy rocks and ferns and under a canopy of Douglas-fir, Alder and Big leaf maple.

Featured Image: Thor’s Well, Photo by John Fowler

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5 Responses

  1. Marc Olson

    Great photos. Keep America wild. I would hike more around the Little Nestucca river near RT 103 Also the Indian Pioneer trail near Mt Hebo. Trail maps maybe at REI ? I am on the look out for stream fishing. I am a long time backpacker from Utah.

    • Trailhead Traveler

      Hi Marc! Thanks for the comment and recommendations! The Indian-Pioneer Trail looks like a great option in the Mt. Hebo area!

      You can find a good amount of trail maps available to download for free on the Siuslaw National Forest website, linked above in the post. Indian-Pioneer Trail Map: // The forest has a lot of great opportunities for fishing as well. I hope you enjoy your visit. If you’re backpacking in Utah as well, be sure to check out our hiking recommendations there as well. Take care!

  2. Alana Antoine

    what would be recomended trails this time of year, planning heading south in about 3 weeks. Coming from Canada!

    • Trailhead Traveler

      Hi Alana,
      Glad to have you! This is a great time of the year to visit if you don’t mind getting a little wet and muddy with all the rain. Waterfalls will be in full force. Sweet Creek Falls Trail, Drift Creek Falls Trail, and Kentucky Falls Trails are all great options. The hike to God’s Thumb is the most popular hike in Siuslaw and highly recommended. However, this trail will be muddy as well — might not be a bad idea to bring some poles with you.

      If you’re staying in the Corvallis area, Mt. Hood and Willamette NFs are also close by and worth a visit. Have fun and happy hiking!
      – TT

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