GETTING THERE To start the loop, follow Third Street south out of Tillamook and watch for the right turn for Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. You can also access the loop from the south at Pacific City.
EXPLORING THE THREE CAPES SCENIC LOOP
The road from Tillamook takes you along the shore of Tillamook Bay and around the north side of Cape Meares. Just around the tip of the cape, you’ll come to Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, the site of the Cape Meares Lighthouse (open daily Apr–Oct 11am–4pm). The views from atop this rocky headland are superb.
Continuing south around the cape, you come to the residential community of Oceanside, with its white-sand beach and offshore monoliths known as the Three Arch Rocks.
Three miles south of Oceanside, is Netarts Bay, famous for its excellent clamming and crabbing.
Continuing south, the scenic byway leads to Cape Lookout State Park (www.oregonstateparks.org; [tel] 503/842-4981), where you’ll find a campground, picnic areas, beaches, and several miles of hiking trails. The most breathtaking trail leads 2 1/2 miles out to the end of Cape Lookout, several hundred feet above the ocean. There is a $5 day-use fee here.
Cape Kiwanda, just north of Pacific City, is preserved as Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. From the foot of the cape’s sandstone cliffs, it’s possible to scramble up a huge sand dune to the top of the cape for dramatic views of this rugged piece of shoreline.
The Three Capes Scenic Loop ends at Pacific City, a small and somewhat helter-skelter fishing town spread out along the Nestucca River. The base of Cape Kiwanda, just to the north of town, is the staging area for Pacific City’s dory fleet. These flat-bottomed commercial fishing boats are launched from the beach and plow through crashing breakers to get out to calmer waters beyond. When the day’s fishing is done, the dories roar into shore at full throttle and come to a grinding stop as high up on the beach as they can get. This is Oregon’s only such fishing fleet, and it’s celebrated in Pacific City each year on the third weekend in July with the annual Dory Days Festival, which includes a fish fry. If you’d like to go out in one of the dories and fish for salmon, ling cod, or albacore tuna, contact Haystack Fishing (www.haystackfishing.com; [tel] 866/965-7555 or 503/965-7555; $180 per person, two-person minimum). Trips are offered June through September.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.