South of Cannon Beach, US-101 rises high above the Pacific. Nowhere else along the Oregon coast does the roadbed offer such a sweeping ocean view. Soaring another thousand feet above the highway is Neahkahnie Mountain, which offers unsurpassed views up and down the coast.
About 10 miles south of Cannon Beach at Oswald West State Park (503/368-3575), a half-mile trail winds beneath the highway through an ancient forest to driftwood-laden (and surfer-friendly) Short Sands Beach and the tide pools of Smuggler’s Cove. Named for an early governor of Oregon who successfully proposed preserving and protecting the beaches of Oregon as state (rather than private) property, Oswald West State Park is a good start for longer hikes, to weather-beaten Cape Falcon or across US-101 to the summit of Neahkahnie Mountain.
South of Neahkahnie Mountain, and thus spared much of the stormy coastal weather (annual rainfall hereabouts averages more than 80 inches), is the upscale resort town of Manzanita. Nearby Nehalem Bay State Park (503/368-5154) has a large campground with hundreds of sites and plenty of hot showers. US-101 continues through a series of small towns before winding inland past the sloughs and dairy country along Tillamook Bay.