**Spoiler Alert**—Cape Disappointment was NOT disappointing. In fact, I think we can safely say that it exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait to go back and explore more of the area!
Cape Disappointment State Park is on the southwestern part of the coast in Washington State. There is a $10 day use fee, although if you plan on visiting more Washington State Parks, I’d recommend a Discover Pass, as the annual pass is only $30. It’s pretty simple to get to from Portland, but also makes for a fairly long day-trip. There are campsites and wonderful day-use spaces within the part of the park that we ventured to, but I can imagine it can get a bit chaotic during the summer months.
To start the hike, we parked at the McKenzie Head trailhead, but crossed the street and hiked the North Head Trail first. The sign said 1.5 miles, but it was a tad longer, plus there was an extra jog out to the North Head lighthouse. (Note that the lighthouse is undergoing renovation until June 2019, and is fully fenced off.)
Hiking through coastal old-growth trees and marine-friendly foliage is one of my absolute FAVORITE things. The trail was well-maintained, and there were a few boardwalks and bridges. We saw more materials near the trail head making us wonder where they will be adding more/making updates.
The elevation change was intense in some parts, and we climbed up and over big tree roots, while also navigating through a few patches of thick mud. The trail also narrowed in spots, thus when folks came towards us, we stepped into a little bit of brush to let them by. Don’t worry, this time of year, there’s nothing in the brush to bite you!
We got to the North Head lighthouse just after lunch time, so we settled into one of only THREE benches on the lighthouse keeper’s walk and had a snack. Maybe there will be more seating when the renovations are done? That would certainly be an upgrade, since it’s a great view for a picnic.
We headed back the way we came and continued on to the McKenzie Head trail, which is 0.25 miles of pure elevation gain. On the way, there was a great view of the McKenzie Lagoon (am I the only one that thinks of Peter Pan when the word “lagoon” is thrown around??) AND the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, which we did not explore. At the summit sits Battery 247, an impressive military installation open to the public.
The day was waning and we had evening plans, so we finished at the battery and headed back to Portland. What a GREAT day!
Stay tuned for the time-lapse video! Better yet, go ahead and subscribe to our YouTube Channel and be notified when it’s posted!
Start Time: 11:00am; Starting Temperature: 43F/6C and sunny
Ending Time: 2:10pm; Ending Temperature: 50F/10C and sunny
2 thoughts on “March 2019 – Cape Disappointment – North and McKenzie Heads Trail”
I have been to Cape Disappointment State park and visited the two light houses during our trip to Long Beach for Washington State International Kite festival. We too felt the name is so contradictory to the beauty of place and surrounding. Do check my blog on
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