Are you looking for breathtaking photo opportunities, dog-friendly restaurants, or a place to let your dog off-leash and run for miles? If yes to any or ALL of these, then the dog-friendly Northern Oregon Coast should be on your bucket list. More specifically, Cannon Beach, and the surrounding communities.
If you’re anything like me when you look for a dog-friendly destination, it’s a bit of a tall order. I’m not talking about a few restaurants with a water bowl out front and a sign that says, “Well Mannered Pets Welcome.”
I’m seeking somewhere to take great photos and do life with my dog, who is now approaching 100# of an ill-mannered, overly excited puppy. I need to travel, eat a meal, visit shops, and take photos with fore mentioned pile of fluff. For me, this means MORE than “Well Mannered Dogs Welcome” at a handful of restaurants. This, friends is the Oregon Coast.
I can’t write this post without starting with the iconic, dog-friendly town, Cannon Beach. This place is hopping most times of the year, but summers are something else entirely. There are kite festivals, sandcastle building competitions, food festivals, and more. And also… Haystack Rock. It’s made many postcards, movie appearances (Hey, to my Goonies Fans), photographs shared everywhere, and probably rotated through the default screensavers you got with your computer.
Cannon Beach offers some of the only real off-leash beaches around. Dogs that can listen to voice commands are welcome to run the stretches of open sand and splash in the waves without towing behind a leash. This alone draws a huge crowd.
Cannon Beach is also home to a local elk herd frequently seen roaming the town.
Haystack Rock is epic any season or time of the day, but low tide unearths some fantastic creatures. Check your tide schedules and make sure to include at least one low tide adventure. Second, to low tide is sunset at Haystack. I will let the photos speak to why this is a must-do.
When you’re ready to step off the sand and grab a bite to eat, most of the restaurants at Cannon Beach offer solutions for pups, and many have covered seating when it rains. I mean, this is still the pacific northwest after all. Shops aren’t excluded from the dog inclusivity, either.
Many stores allow pups to accompany their owners to view artwork, shop clothes, or buy Oregon Coast souvenirs. All without leaving your dog at home or awkwardly having to sit outside a store while you trade-off dog duty.
Hug Point might be my favorite Oregon Coast spot, even beating out Haystack (yup I said it). What’s not to love about a hidden waterfall, caves, and an old road carved into the rocks connecting two beaches?
Hug Point got its name in the early 1900s when stagecoaches had to travel this stretch of beach, and the only way to get across was to “Hug the Point” at low tide when the path was accessible. While you walk the historical route, it’s impressive to think about a horse and carriage carefully sneaking around the rock ledge.
Check your tide schedules, and as the tide drops, you can walk past the first corner to a hidden waterfall. Play here for a bit, explore the waterfall, and when the tide drops further, “Hug the Point” and walk to the connecting beach or sit and reflect on the experiences 100 years ago. It’s an impressive sight to take in. For more detailed history on Hug Point, check here.
Oswald State Park
Oswald is my favorite place to hike around for the day. Parking off Highway 101, it’s a short hike to the beach where you can play in the creek, toss rocks or watch surfers. Head up the hill for a longer walk into the forests opening up to expansive views of the ocean. Keep going, and you can even head up Neakhanie Mountain.
Parking gets packed on the weekends, but Oswald has so much room to stretch out; it’s worth it even on the busier days.
A Note About Reactive Dogs
Does walking your dog in a crowded (even though dog-friendly) town make you nervous? Or walking your dog on an off-leash beach makes you begin to research dog training classes? I feel you oh so much as we are in the thick of dog training as I write this. Cannon Beach is AMAZING and a must-do for dog lovers, but in full disclosure, it’s intense for reactive dogs and might not be the most soothing environment if you’re concerned about your pup’s behavior.
Tips for Taking a Reactive Dog to the Northern Oregon Coast
- Go in the offseason. Once school is back in session, it does die down and gives everyone a bit more shoulder room.
- Avoid Cannon Beach. It’s incredible, yes. But it’s intense. Check out Manzanita, Nehalem Bay State Park, Rockaway Beach, or Lincoln City for fewer crowds but still that dog-friendly atmosphere.
- Eat during the off times. Are you taking your dog to lunch? Try eating right when the restaurant opens or between lunch and dinner. Ask for a table on the outside of the area, so your pup doesn’t get boxed in with other families.
- Bring all the treats. It is not just for your dog, but they are a secret weapon to toss at an incoming off-leash dog. I’m not above packing my pockets full of hotdogs for a little extra insurance in tense times.
- Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you home. There are places to go and ways to adjust. Do your research, prepare for the unexpected, and get ready to enjoy the outdoors with your dog.
Friends, I didn’t even scratch the surface with all the things to see here, and there are so many places I wish I had time to mention. I hope that this inspires you to research this destination a bit more, and perhaps you’ll load up your pup and make your own adventures. The Northern Oregon Coast is not to be missed – For you or your dog.
Happy Hiking Friends!
Hug your pup and get outdoors