The Oregon Coast Trail is a roughly 400-mile walking route that capitalizes on Oregon’s 262 miles of publicly owned and accessible sandy beaches. Roughly half the route is on the beach itself. Another quarter follows footpaths over headlands, also publicly owned. The remaining quarter follows quiet side roads and, where unavoidable, the shoulder of US 101.
Right now (spring 2021) nearly all the state park hiker-biker camp frequented by OCT hikers are closed, but they are expected to slowly reopen and may all be back open by around Memorial Day. Some trail sections on the north coast are curently closed due to storm damage, and some may remain closed through this hiking season, putting you on the road shoulder. So there are some challenges, but certainly 2021 is looking like a way better year than 2020, when hikers were asked to stay off the OCT due to the pandemic. Find trail condition details in the five trail sections on this website.
It is not meant to be a stand-alone guide to the OCT! But this website + my guidebook Day Hiking: Oregon Coast provides the most detailed guidance available to thru-hikers at this time. It also replaces my blog, which you can still access for archival info (though some of it is pretty dated).
The book was my attempt to convey as much info as I could about thru-hiking the OCT within the covers of a book mainly focused on day hiking. It was not a perfect fix. Therefore ...
Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail will be available in September 2021. It is designed as a guide for thru-hikers and section hikers, with more emphasis on camping options, boat shuttles, and other details backpackers and inn-to-inn hikers need than you can find in Day Hiking: Oregon Coast. It will include everything in this website and lots more (except trail condition updates, which I plan to continue to post here).
The Oregon Coast isn't a wilderness. But hiking the Oregon Coast Trail is an adventure. Read about season, direction of travel, and other quirks and key info.
The start of the OCT (yes, you definitely should hike southbound) has beaches, headlands, everything--but limited legal camping presents challenges.
A half-dozen gorgeous headlands, long beaches, camping and lodging options, and limited highway walking if you study the route carefully.
A great stretch with fabulous views and good lodging and camping, diminished only by a couple of long stretches of highway walking.
The most remote stretch of the OCT, ideal for backpacking, with a couple of bay mouth crossings--one easy to wrangle, one more challenging.
Amazing views in this least-developed stretch of the Oregon Coast, but limited lodging and some camping challenges, and some long highway hiking.
Bonnie Henderson has been backpacking on and writing about the Oregon Coast Trail since 2008. She is the author of three guidebooks: Day Hiking: Oregon Coast, Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon (with Zach Urness), and Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail (coming in September 2021), all from Mountaineers Books. She is also the author of two nonfiction books: The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast and Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris, both from Oregon State University Press. She lives in Eugene, Oregon. Follow her work at bonniehendersonwrites.com.
Have you seen trail conditions change? Have you discovered a great campsite or slick way to cross a river? Have you scrutinized my book and this site and still have questions about planning your OCT thru-hike? Send me a message.