Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (OR)

One of the most spectacular areas along the Oregon Coast is the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. It also is the highest viewpoint of the ocean accessible by car in the state. Over 2,500 acres, the highlights include a geologic blowhole (Spouting Horn), a long, narrow crack cleaved in the coastal basalt (Devil’s Churn) and a stunning headland that juts far out to sea. One of Cape Perpetua’s prized possessions is a 600-year-old giant Sitka spruce that stands over 185-ft tall and sports a 40-ft circumference at the base, designated by the state of Oregon as a “heritage tree.”

Incoming and outgoing waves can dramatically collide as they make their way through the Devil’s Churn, an elongated and narrow fissure along the basalt embankment, producing titanic plumes of water and foam.

Devil’s Churn from an overlook

We took the 1.5-mile St. Perpetua Trail over the headland, gaining 600ft in elevation to the end, where there was a magnificent view of the ocean. Along the way, we passed a beautiful forest of old growth spruce, Douglas fir and western hemlock.

Off the trail, a steep stairway provided access to the rocky shore. Scrambling over the jagged volcanic rock requires a sure foot, but from here you can see the power of the swirling waves and currents.

The waves and currents are treacherous, sometimes creating vortices in the water
The waves and currents are treacherous, sometimes creating vortices in the water

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