For some of the most gorgeous hiking routes in the western part of America, look no farther than Highway 101 which stretches from California through Oregon to Washington state.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular hiking trails along the way, starting in the Golden State and heading up to Washington State.
Landmark: Point Reyes National Seashore
Stretching toward the sea just a little north of San Francisco, you will discover the Point Reyes national marine sanctuary wrapping itself around Drakes Bay.
Hike what will feel like endless trails across beaches, estuaries, creeks, spits, bays and lagoons where harbor seals spy on you from the estuaries. Then take the Tomales Point Trail two miles across a preserve of tule elk.
Landmark: Redwood National Park
Here just south of Crescent City along California’s most northern coast, hikers can gaze upon some of the tallest trees the world has ever recorded: the ancient Redwoods.
Stop by Tall Trees Grove to view the Libbey tree an isolated attraction that will require a permit to view it (most things in California, including looking at trees, will require a permit).
Wrap up your hike with a visit to Lady Bird Johnson Grove, named after the wife of one of America’s most reprehensible presidents.
Landmark: Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Get ready to hike 12.6 miles of trail along the southern Oregon coastline over beaches that hug high cliffs then cross over the Thomas Creek bridge.
Along the way you’ll see just about every coastal feature you can imagine, from canyons and cliffs to beaches and natural bridges, all the way from Cape Ferrelo at the south end of the park to Arch Rock at the north end.
Landmark: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
The Umpqua dunes in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area offers some of the most peaceful solitude a hiker could ever hope for.
Stretching 40 miles along the coast of Oregon, the dunes reach as high as 150 meters above the sand, with “tree islands” sporting at the top of mini mountains of sand.
Be forewarned that this can be tough hiking since you’ll be trekking round-trip through five miles of sand and marsh to explore the gullies between the dunes.
Landmark: Baker Beach
Baker Beach is anything but smooth sand. It’s a rough wilderness of creeks, lakes and sand dunes with wild strawberries growing up through the sand with brown pelicans around to eat them!
From here the Pacific Ocean is just a half mile away along the shore where you discover the Sutton Creek estuary, site of the snowy plover, a federally protected species. Don’t get too close or rangers with guns may approach.
Landmark: Oswald West State Park
Beginning hikers take note. A half a mile of trail will lead you through red cedars an giant Douglas firs to Short Sand beach where you will discover Smuggler Cove, featuring Cape Falcon to the north and Neahkahnie Mountain to the south.
Truly, this is the best the west coast of America has to offer, with a tumbling waterfall and splashing waves.
Another two miles of hiking and you pass through an old growth forest to the Cape Falcon headlands, a terrific spot to sight sea lions and migrating whales.
Landmark: Ecola State Park
Climb six miles of trails beginning at Ecola Point with its views of Seal Rock arches, ascend to a WWII military bunker offering a peaceful view of Tillamook Rock lighthouse on a little island in the sea.
Descend Tillamook Head past hidden beaches, cliffs and thick, green forests and you arrive at the Seaside beach where golden eagles soar and elk may be watching you from afar.
Landmark: Cape Disappointment State Park
Those new to hiking will not be disappointed to learn that this easy 2.6 mile trek strolls along sandstone cliffs, past a coastal forest to Cape Disappointment where it juts out into the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia river, offering a gorgeous view of Oregon.
Plus, you get to Explore Dead Man’s cove which the kids will simply love since it’s known as “the graveyard of the Pacific”.
Landmark: Shi-Shi Beach: Olympic National Park
The Olympic National Park is renowned for its rain forests, home of the largest herd of Roosevelt elks in America.
Day hikers will enjoy a trek through unsurpassed beauty along a rugged beach, across pristine Petroleum Creek, through a forest of Sitka spruce, past tide pools and sand dunes and ending up on Shi Shi beach, littered with drift wood – perfect for the collector (although a permit may be required to remove any).