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Begin Your Own Expedition

July 15, 2018
Category: Things To do

You are finding yourself staying in Seaside, Oregon and wondering what are some of the things to do around this beautiful town? If you are feeling adventurous, and even a bit nostalgic for times before your own, why not recreate a portion of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery expedition by hiking along the Tillamook Head Trail. Beginning at the southernmost edge of Sunset Boulevard in Seaside, this historic trail is broken up into three parts, totaling 12.2 miles round trip, should you be feeling in a particularly energetic mood. 

The headland, itself, was formed long before Lewis and Clark’s journey. Lava flow from Idaho welled up and was carried downriver via the Columbia River out into the Pacific. This basalt then washed along the shore and compacted into steep, rocky cliffs, yet providing rich nutrients to the silt build up that formed over these layers, helping it fuse and grow lush, green forest within. This headland rises from ocean level, with the summit peaking at approximately 1,200 feet, or 366 meters.

This leg of the Lewis and Clark expedition was after they had settled at the mouth of the Columbia River by building Fort Clatsop and they were seeking additional waterways that could potentially lead them back inland on a more direct route home. During this portion, they found a beached whale and offered to purchase the blubber from the local Native American tribe, the Killamucks. This was during the wintry month of January 1806, and their food supply had nearly become exhausted.

Along this trek, from the westernmost outstretch of the Tillamook Head, one can see Tillamook Rock. Roughly 1.2 miles offshore, this rock was thought to be a potentially useful point for a lighthouse. Commissioned in 1878, the Tillamook Rock Light began construction in 1880. Taking over 500 days to complete, it was finally finished in 1881. Due to the unpredictable weather and storms in the area, it was a hazardous trek for both stewards and workers to make the trek to the 1-acre patch of basalt rock. In addition to the treacherous transportation to and from the lighthouse, inclement weather and storms often threw water, rocks and even fish to the peak of the structure, some 132 feet above sea level, breaking the windows, cracking the light itself and damaging the structure repeatedly throughout the years. Hence, it gained the nickname “Terrible Tilly.”

Also, along the Tillamook Head trail, one will find a concrete bunker, now covered in moss from years of disuse. This particular bunker served as a radar installation during World War II, but is no longer in service and has since had its components dismantled. While a pretty neat place to stop and rest, you should take the time to head out towards the breathtaking view above the rocky cliffs, out to the ocean by turning your gaze to the West. This bunker marks the halfway point, and you can either continue to Cannon Beach or begin making your way back. Either way, the views will be stunning, and you’ll have made just a portion of the journey that Lewis and Clark did over 200 years ago.

Stay at River Inn At Seaside

Enjoy your stay at River Inn At Seaside while recreating this historic journey along the Tillamook Trail Head. The Tillamook Trail Head is less than 10 minutes away from the River Inn At Seaside, where you can find the lowest rates available by booking directly at