Crescent Beach Waterfall

Ecola State Park / Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA

About Crescent Beach Waterfall


Hiking Distance: at least 4 miles round-trip
Suggested Time: about 2.5-3 hours (allow more time to explore)

Date first visited: 2021-04-07
Date last visited: 2021-04-07

Waterfall Latitude: 45.91506
Waterfall Longitude: -123.97049

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The Crescent Beach Waterfall was actually a waterfall that I was well aware of ever since we first visited Ecola State Park back in early April 2009.

Back then, we noticed a waterfall spilling onto the beach, but we wondered if there was a trail that would actually let us go down there to truly experience it.

Crescent_Beach_201_04072021 - The Crescent Beach Waterfall
The Crescent Beach Waterfall

We ultimately had to wait 12 years before that opportunity finally presented itself.

And as you can tell from this write-up, there is indeed such a trail.

It turned out that the Crescent Beach Waterfall actually has a hidden upper tier (so it’s taller than it appears in the photos on this page), but I’d argue that it’s the pristine scenery of Crescent Beach itself that made this experience.

Indeed, not only did we get to enjoy vistas of the long stretch of wet sand closed in by rock stacks (many of which have sea arches), but there were few people on the trail on the day we did this hike in early April 2021.

Ecola_SP_048_04032009 - This was the view of the Crescent Beach Waterfall when we first witnessed it near the Ecola Point Lookout back in early April 2009
This was the view of the Crescent Beach Waterfall when we first witnessed it near the Ecola Point Lookout back in early April 2009

Maybe the on-and-off pockets of rain had something to do with keeping most visitors away from doing this adventure, but it ended up being one of the magical highlights of that Spring Break Trip.

Hiking The Crescent Beach Trail – Ecola Point & The Start Of The Hike

In order to earn our Crescent Beach and Crescent Beach Waterfall experience, we had to go on a 4-mile round-trip hike (according to my GPS logs).

It started from the day use parking lot for Ecola Point (see directions below), where we paid $5 for a pay-and-display ticket.

From this parking lot, we had the option of walking towards the viewpoints immediately downhill towards Ecola Point from the parking lot, or we could head towards the restroom area where the Crescent Beach Trail started.

Crescent_Beach_032_04072021 - Julie and Tahia starting on the Crescent Beach Trail during our early April 2021 visit. That sign warned that only experienced hikers should do this trail, and I kind of see why
Julie and Tahia starting on the Crescent Beach Trail during our early April 2021 visit. That sign warned that only experienced hikers should do this trail, and I kind of see why

During our visit in early April 2021, there were numerous closure signs warning of active landslides so the only vista that was worth our while was the one looking back over to Crescent Beach, where we could see the target waterfall.

Anyways, at the start of the trail, there was a sign warning that only experienced hikers should attempt this trail.

For reasons that will be clear later on in this write-up, it became apparent why.

The trail then ascended steps as I climbed back up to the access road that we took to get into Ecola State Park.

Crescent_Beach_043_04072021 - Julie and Tahia walking alongside the access road that we had driven on to get to the Ecola Point Day Use Parking Lot as we followed the Crescent Beach Trail
Julie and Tahia walking alongside the access road that we had driven on to get to the Ecola Point Day Use Parking Lot as we followed the Crescent Beach Trail

We then briefly followed this road until signs pointed for us to go back down below the road and onto a narrower and more lush coastal forest at roughly 0.3-mile from the start.

Hiking The Crescent Beach Trail – A Detour, Fallen Trees, and Muddy Areas

Shortly after leaving the access road, we encountered a fork where the authorities appeared to try to steer hikers away from the path on the right.

Just out of curiosity, we went ahead and took the path on the right instead of the pink-ribboned path on the left.

That path on the right descended towards openings in the forest revealing more of Crescent Beach below, and it was quite the scenic route.

Crescent_Beach_063_04072021 - Julie and Tahia checking out the views of Crescent Beach (and Cannon Beach in the distance) from the scenic part of the Crescent Beach Trail (which the detour actually avoided)
Julie and Tahia checking out the views of Crescent Beach (and Cannon Beach in the distance) from the scenic part of the Crescent Beach Trail (which the detour actually avoided)

However, shortly after getting past the coastal vistas along this path, we then encountered a series of large fallen trees, and that’s when we realized why the authorities made the detour in the first place.

By the way, the pink-ribbon-lined detour bypassing the scenic route wasn’t immune to fallen trees either as we had encountered at least one that we had to climb over (we know because we took this way on the way back to the trailhead).

At nearly 0.35 mile from the start of this scenic path, the two paths then merged, and we proceeded along a more conventional forested route surrounded by moss-covered trees and lots of ferns on the forest floor.

For almost the next mile, the trail was fairly straightforward to follow, but it had its share of skirting around very muddy patches (some of which had attractive flowers blooming in the middle of them) and some slippery gullies.

Crescent_Beach_086_04072021 - The Crescent Beach Trail had to go through one of these deep muddy patches that we had to skirt around, but interestingly, there were flowers blooming in the middle of some of them
The Crescent Beach Trail had to go through one of these deep muddy patches that we had to skirt around, but interestingly, there were flowers blooming in the middle of some of them

Because it was raining on and off during our early April 2021 visit, we appreciated the fairly extensive forest cover which sheltered us from the weather for the most part.

Eventually, the Crescent Beach Trail reached a signed junction where going right led down to Crescent Beach while going left would lead towards Cannon Beach.

While I was aware that it was possible to walk to Crescent Beach from Cannon Beach, I’d imagine that was the trail that would have taken us here had we started from there.

Hiking The Crescent Beach Trail – The Final Descent

Keeping right at the signed trail junction, the trail then began its moderately steep descent, which the trailhead signage had warned about.

Crescent_Beach_137_04072021 - Julie struggling with this steep and slippery downhill stretch as we were getting closer to Crescent Beach
Julie struggling with this steep and slippery downhill stretch as we were getting closer to Crescent Beach

What made this part of the trail tricky was that the footing on the narrow trail was quite slippery even with the proper hiking boots on, and this is in the presence of sloping dropoffs.

The best advice that I can give on this stretch (especially if you’re not using trekking poles) is to lean forward and use the downward momentum to your advantage.

If you lean too far back, you’ll likely slip and fall (kind of similar to the mentality you need when you’re learning how to ski).

After getting through this 0.3-mile stretch, the worst part was over, and then came the final descent on steps where the last flight onto the rocks was missing.

Crescent_Beach_152_04072021 - Tahia and Julie on the final stair-aided descent to Crescent Beach. Note Tahia was at the end of the steps down below and she actually had to scramble towards her right (away from the dropoff) to get onto the rocks safely
Tahia and Julie on the final stair-aided descent to Crescent Beach. Note Tahia was at the end of the steps down below and she actually had to scramble towards her right (away from the dropoff) to get onto the rocks safely

Fortunately, we were able to scramble down from the opposite side of the end of the steps onto the rocks, and then we were finally onto Crescent Beach.

Exploring Crescent Beach

At this point, we kept to our right (going north) along Crescent Beach for the next 0.2-mile to finally get to the base of the Crescent Beach Waterfall.

This waterfall flowed on the aptly-named Waterfall Creek, but I suspect that its fairly weak flow suggested that it was seasonal.

On the final approach to the waterfall, that was when we noticed a hidden upper tier that faced away from the vistas that faced south.

Crescent_Beach_185_04072021 - Looking at the hidden upper tier of the Crescent Beach Waterfall, which could only be seen without a drone from the beach
Looking at the hidden upper tier of the Crescent Beach Waterfall, which could only be seen without a drone from the beach

However, we couldn’t photograph both of these twisting tiers together in one go so it appeared quite a bit smaller than it really was.

Nevertheless, we pretty much spent a good deal of time at this waterfall, which we had to ourselves during our visit.

I did notice one other person who kept walking further north on Crescent Beach, and perhaps he pursued alcoves and caves that I thought I saw in the distance.

In any case, after having our fill of the Crescent Beach Waterfall, we then pursued the far southern end of the beach near Chapman Point and the Bird Rocks because each of the formations here featured sea arches.

Crescent_Beach_224_04072021 - Looking towards the pair of sea arches at Chapman Point and Bird Rocks in low tide
Looking towards the pair of sea arches at Chapman Point and Bird Rocks in low tide

Along the way, we noticed there was a separate trail and even thinner cascade as well as crabs, birds, lots of driftwood, and even sea shells (hinting at how pristine this beach was).

After having our fill of Crescent Beach, we then returned the way we came, which ultimately took us over 3 hours, but a solid hour was spent just enjoying being almost alone on the beach.

Authorities

The Crescent Beach Waterfall resides in Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach in Clatsop County, Oregon. It is administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Crescent_Beach_009_04072021 - Before embarking on the Crescent Beach Adventure, we briefly went to check out the views of that beach from near the Ecola Point Lookout during our early April 2021 visit
Crescent_Beach_011_04072021 - It might be hard to tell in this photo, but they took out the Ecola Point Lookout during our early April 2021 visit due to an active landslide
Crescent_Beach_014_04072021 - Looking from the end of the safe-viewing area near Ecola Point towards Crescent Beach and the Crescent Beach Waterfall that we were targeting on this hike
Crescent_Beach_035_04072021 - Julie and Tahia ascending at the start of the Crescent Beach Trail
Crescent_Beach_041_04072021 - Tahia and Julie approaching the access road as the Crescent Beach Trail actually skirted alongside it for a short stretch
Crescent_Beach_045_04072021 - Julie and Tahia approaching a junction where the path on the left was actually a detour whereas the path on the right was the 'scenic route' overlooking Crescent Beach along the way
Crescent_Beach_049_04072021 - Tahia and Julie getting around some of the muddy patches along the 'scenic' route to Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_051_04072021 - Julie checking out Crescent Beach from one of the open vistas along the Crescent Beach Trail's 'scenic route'
Crescent_Beach_059_04072021 - Looking back towards the Sea Lion Rock though we couldn't see the natural arch this time around since the Ecola Point Viewpoint was no longer publicly accessible due to landslides
Crescent_Beach_065_04072021 - Tahia and Julie climbing over one of the handful of fallen trees blocking the 'scenic path' to Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_069_04072021 - Julie going over another one of the fallen trees along the 'scenic path' to Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_082_04072021 - Tahia and Julie re-entering the lush coastal forest and navigating some muddy patches en route to Crescent Beach during our early April 2021 visit
Crescent_Beach_093_04072021 - Julie and Tahia benefitting from the forest cover as the weather had been raining on and off during our hike to Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_096_04072021 - Tahia and Julie continuing along the lush coastal forest en route to Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_116_04072021 - Julie and Tahia going past another muddy stretch as we continued a fairly lengthy forested stretch of the Crescent Beach Trail
Crescent_Beach_118_04072021 - The signposted junction where we kept right to descend towards Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_123_04072021 - Julie and Tahia embarking on the final descent towards Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_129_04072021 - Encountering one of the few people we saw while doing the Crescent Beach Trail, but these folks were heading back to the trailhead
Crescent_Beach_136_04072021 - Context of the Crescent Beach Trail clinging onto the steep but lush slopes
Crescent_Beach_142_04072021 - Julie descending the steep and slippery stretch of the Crescent Beach Trail
Crescent_Beach_146_04072021 - Julie almost making it to the bottom of the descent to Crescent Beach as we could start to see sea stacks getting closer
Crescent_Beach_148_04072021 - Tahia making the final descent onto Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_149_04072021 - By this point, I noticed that there were sea arches in the sea stacks to the left so I made a mental note to check them out after experiencing the Crescent Beach Waterfall
Crescent_Beach_155_04072021 - Finally on Crescent Beach, and now Julie and Tahia were pursuing the waterfall on Waterfall Creek
Crescent_Beach_159_04072021 - Smooth wet sand as we were making our way towards the Crescent Beach Waterfall
Crescent_Beach_160_04072021 - Julie approaching the Crescent Beach Waterfall as we both noticed a hidden tier making this falls taller than we had initially given credit for
Crescent_Beach_168_04072021 - Finally making it out to the Crescent Beach Waterfall
Crescent_Beach_177_04072021 - Another look at the well-earned visit of the Crescent Beach Waterfall in early April 2021
Crescent_Beach_184_04072021 - Looking back at the context of Crescent Beach with Tahia playing in the sand as seen from the Crescent Beach Waterfall
Crescent_Beach_191_04072021 - Tahia showing off her sand drawings on Crescent Beach during our early April 2021 visit
Crescent_Beach_209_04072021 - After having our fill of the Crescent Beach Waterfall, we then pursued this pair of sea arches
Crescent_Beach_232_04072021 - Looking down at the shell of a sand dollar that Tahia spotted while on Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_240_04072021 - Looking towards a hidden waterfall tier and an alternate trail to Crescent Beach. I suspect that hikers from Cannon Beach would likely prefer this trail, but it appears you can also make a case for going down this path to avoid the steep and slippery descent that we had gone on earlier
Crescent_Beach_248_04072021 - Closer look at one of the crab shells that we spotted while exploring Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_268_04072021 - After having our fill of Crescent Beach, it was time to climb back up and head to the parking lot
Crescent_Beach_270_04072021 - Tahia and Julie making their way past some slippery muddy spots as we were climbing back up and out of Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_271_04072021 - Noticing some kind of berry growing out of one of the foliage flanking the Crescent Beach Trail
Crescent_Beach_282_04072021 - Tahia and Julie trying to avoid some of the muddy patches on the return hike from Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_289_04072021 - Tahia and Julie avoiding another muddy patch on the way back from Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_295_04072021 - Yet another slippery spot that we had to get through on the way back from Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_298_04072021 - Tahia and Julie taking the detour route back towards the parking lot after having left Crescent Beach
Crescent_Beach_302_04072021 - We weren't totally immune to having to climb over fallen trees even on the detour of the Crescent Beach Trail
Crescent_Beach_303_04072021 - More pink ribbons as we traversed the detour back to the parking lot for Ecola Point
Crescent_Beach_312_04072021 - Tahia and Julie making the final descent back to the Ecola Point Parking Lot
Crescent_Beach_313_04072021 - Tahia returning to the parking lot for Ecola Point thereby ending our magical adventure to Crescent Beach in early April 2021
Ecola_SP_002_04032009 - When we first visited Ecola Point in early April 2009, we were able to walk all the way to a lookout at Ecola Point
Ecola_SP_004_04032009 - Looking towards the far end of Crescent Beach and Cannon Beach in the distance from Ecola Point in early April 2009
Ecola_SP_015_04032009 - Looking towards the context of Crescent Beach during our early April 2009 visit to Ecola State Park
Ecola_SP_022_04032009 - Looking towards the Crescent Beach Waterfall, which I didn't know by name back when we took this shot in early April 2009
Ecola_SP_028_04032009 - Looking out from Ecola Point during our first visit back in early April 2009
Ecola_SP_032_04032009 - Looking right at the Sea Lion Rock, which harbored an arch, from Ecola Point in early April 2009
Ecola_SP_034_04032009 - It was interesting to see this walkway during our first visit to Ecola Point in early April 2009, which is no longer there on our second visit in early April 2021
Ecola_SP_045_04032009 - More zoomed in look at the Crescent Beach Waterfall flowing quite well during our first visit to Ecola Point in early April 2009
Ecola_SP_059_04032009 - Looking back along the walk towards Ecola Point in early April 2009, but it's no longer there when we came back 12 years later. They really weren't kidding about active landslides doing that trail in


The Crescent Beach Waterfall resides in Ecola State Park almost immediately nouth of Cannon Beach.

The parking for the trailhead was at the one for Ecola Point (though that viewpoint has since been taken down due to an active landslide).

Crescent_Beach_001_04072021 - The day use parking lot for Ecola Point in Ecola State Park
The day use parking lot for Ecola Point in Ecola State Park

From Hemlock Street through the main drag in Cannon Beach, we took this street to its far north as it made a series of turns onto 3rd Street and Spruce Street, and eventually onto Elm Street.

Shortly after the bridge crossing Ecola Creek, we then followed the sign, which had us turn left onto 5th Street.

After about 0.1-mile, we then kept right to go onto Ecola Park Road, and we followed this road for about 1.6 miles to the turnoff for Ecola Point on the left.

The day use parking area was at the end of this spur, and the Crescent Beach Trailhead was between the pay-and-display dispenser and the restroom facility.

Crescent_Beach_002_04072021 - Looking at the pay-and-display dispenser with the restroom facility in the background. The Crescent Beach Trail began at the brown sign to the left of the restrooms
Looking at the pay-and-display dispenser with the restroom facility in the background. The Crescent Beach Trail began at the brown sign to the left of the restrooms

For some geographical context, Cannon Beach was about 6 miles (less than 15 minutes drive) north of Arch Cape, 9 miles (15 minutes drive) south of Seaside, 16 miles (less than 30 minutes drive) north of Nehalem, 40 miles (an hour drive) north of Tillamook, 85 miles (over 90 minutes drive) west of Portland, and 158 miles (about 3.5 hours drive) north of Florence.

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Long video starting from close to the waterfall on Crescent Beach before moving to see the falls from other angles. Then, walked further among the stacks to reveal the uppermost tier of the waterfall


360 degree sweep on a tripod of the Crescent Beach and the waterfall


360 degree sweep that was tripod aided as the position was towards the left side of the Crescent Beach Waterfall


Video showing sea stacks of Crescent Beach in the distance including a sea arch in one of the stacks while then panning over to a hidden waterfall near an alternate trail leading down to the beach

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Tagged with: ecola state park, crescent beach, cannon beach, oregon coast, waterfall, muddy, sea arches



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