Hiking Daytrips from the North Coast: Cummins Creek Wilderness Trail

By Dante Zuniga-West | Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Most of us on the North Coast have a penchant for exploring and sightseeing. One of the best ways we satisfy our sense of wanderlust is a hiking daytrip somewhere on the Oregon Coast. If you’re a die-hard day hiker with a love for trekking through the Pacific temperate rainforest, the Cummins Creek Wilderness Trail is the type of hidden gem that should definitely be on your radar. About a two-hour drive from southern Tillamook County, you’ll find this 5.8-mile trail just east of Neptune State Park. It takes hikers, explorers and daytrippers through 9,100-acres of the Cummins Creek Wilderness area, cresting Pacific fogbanks and meandering along the scenic ridgeline.

Although this hike leads you off the beaten path, the trailhead is easy to find. As you’re heading south on U.S. Highway 101 through Yachats (see our Central Oregon Coast guide to learn more), pass over the Gwynn Creek Bridge and start looking on your left. The entrance to the trailhead is marked by a sign – hang that left and a quick quarter-mile drive up the gravel road will put you right where you want to be.  

Photo credits to oregonhiking.com

Each time I hike this trail, I’m awestruck by the sheer size of the surrounding wilderness. To walk among the largest old-growth Sitka spruce trees on Oregon’s coast is a truly spectacular experience. These giants, covered in lime-green moss are accompanied by Douglass Fir and western hemlocks. Surrounded by sword ferns and shrub patches, these trees line the path that takes you up, up and away to ridgeline views of the pounding ocean as seen through the branches while the hike increases in both grade and beauty.  

But it’s not just the breathtaking beauty and humongous trees that keep drawing me back to the Cummins Creek Wilderness Trail. It’s the feeling of being completely immersed in a part of the natural world that has been left untouched by humans. Wilderness areas such as Cummins Creek Wilderness are federally protected natural areas that prohibit the use of motor vehicles or mechanical travel, making them truly wild places where hikers have the right of way. There’s also much more to do than just hike.

Foraging is one activity that springs to mind. It’s no secret that the coastal forest in these parts is home to a great variety of tasty fungus. One of the things I enjoy doing most while hiking the Cummins Creek Wilderness Trail is hopping off the path and foraging for mushrooms. You’ll find your way into patches of chanterelles as well as lobster mushrooms if you stay persistent and look in the right places.

Photo credits to modernfarmer.com

Wildlife viewing is another reason I’ve found myself drawn back to the Cummins Creek Wilderness Trail. As you probably guessed, this relatively untouched swath of wild forest is home to an abundance of animals. I’ve seen a number of elks and black bears as well as spawning salmon and steelhead in the creek waters. This is also one of the only places you can see the elusive silverspot butterfly.

You can find a multitude of other Northern Oregon Coast attractions within a drive from the Cummins Creek Wilderness Trail. Its convenient location allows for an array of adventures and other Things to Do on the Northern Oregon Coast. Keep up with what's going on this week, including beach clean ups, art classes and free screenings at movie theaters, with our Daytime Events calendar. For evening entertainment, our Nightlife page guides you to cooking classes, live music, theater performances and much more.

About the Author Dante Zuniga-West
Dante Zuniga-West is a writer and outdoorsman who thrives in the backcountry. He is passionate about environmental conservation, leadership, primitive skills and connecting young people to the natural world. A published novelist and working freelancer, Dante’s articles can be found in a variety of outdoor adventure journals, alternative newspapers and lifestyle magazines. Away from work Dante spends his time on public lands, hunting and fishing. He lives off the grid in the coastal mountain range of Oregon.