There are more than a few coastal-area hikes with great views, but Cedar Butte gets extra points for the absence of crowds. Most days you’ll hit this Tillamook State Forest location and find yourself in solitude. It’s a hiking-only trail in a remote location, with a nice mix of tough hiking, great views, and the quiet of the woodlands.
Access to the trailhead is not easy – perhaps adding an additional deterrent for travelers. The path in requires a drive through a still-active logging road. But if you have a high-clearance vehicle and know how to drive through narrow passages, you’ll make it through.
As the trailhead road will hint at, the first stretch of this hike is through a regenerating forest. You'll see clear signs of regrowth after logging. This is the flat part, but soon after hitting the forest canopy, the elevation with change. Brace yourself for a series of short, steep switchbacks. The path will change from soft dirt to loose rocks, adding to the challenge. But it's a straightforward trail, leading straight to the summit.
At the top of Cedar Butte you’ll find two small benches. Needless to say, this is a great spot to put your feet up and enjoy the view. It’s a stunning panorama of the miles and miles of forest. And on clear days, you can even catch sight of the Pacific Ocean. The wide summit is also a great spot for a picnic, especially in wildflower season, when the area is rich with Scouler's Harebell.
For safety, bring good hiking shoes, as few visitors means unpacked trail dirt. The remote location also means a higher probability of crossing paths with larger animals and predators, so stay alert.
Directions from Portland:
-- From US 26 west take Highway 6 toward Tillamook. You’ll find a right hand turn on Cedar Butte Road between milepost 18 and 17.
-- Turn right onto Cedar Butte Road. Cross a small bridge and follow the Cedar Butte Trail signs about 5.5 miles to a parking area. The trailhead is on the left.