Photo courtesy of Halvor Tweto
The Hobbit Trail begins at a humble parking pull-out just north of Heceta Head State Park, and it can be easy to miss if you drive by looking for a more established trailhead. The trailhead is literally right off the highway, which creates an intense juxtaposition; just as you rush across the road to escape oncoming traffic, you plunge into a deep and luxuriant coastal forest with walls of Sitka spruce and rhododendrons thick enough to close off your highway experience. Immediately you will find a signed trail junction, where you should walk left to stay on the Hobbit Trail and get to the beach, or walk right if you’d like a longer hike to Heceta Head. The trail down to the beach affords one or two more expansive views of the ocean, but the real pleasure of this trail is wandering through the interior forest. At times it feels like you are in a hall decorated with salal and a root woven runner.
The Hobbit Trail is part of a larger network of trails that reach their northernmost extent at the Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park Campground and include the Valley Trail and China Creek Trail Loop, both of which are on the inland side of the highway. The Hobbit Trail is the southernmost of the three main connecting trails between this network and the long beach. For a longer walk on the beach, consider extending it by taking the Hobbit Trail down to the beach, walking north to one to of the campground access trails, and then taking the Valley Trail south from the campground back to the Hobbit Trail parking area (or reverse the loop depending on the prevailing winds).
The beach at the end of the Hobbit Trail is part of the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Areas. This means that there are specific prohibitions against fishing and the harvesting of fish, invertebrates, and seaweed. Check here for specific clarifications on regulations, exemptions, and a detailed representation of the area’s boundaries.