“Work your way through a coastal rain forest to the top of a headland in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
— Anne Travels
$5 per day fee is charged to enter Ecola State Park; state park passes only are accepted to waive fees.
This very popular trail begins at the Indian Beach parking area. About 400 ft. from the trailhead, the trail splits, with the road (return route) continuing straight, while a dirt path strikes off to the left. Turn left to ascend to a viewpoint over Ecola State Park and Indian Beach about 0.1 miles from the beginning of the trail. Enjoy the views before continuing up the trail.
The path winds upward through the coastal rain forest, complete with hanging mosses, giant trees, enormous ferns, etc. This place is even more rain-forest-like than the more famous rain forests of northern Washington. All we need now are some chattering monkeys, and you might believe that you are running in the tropics!
A few peek-a-boo views look out on the Pacific Ocean before the trail finally ceases climbing and connects to the return trail / road at a 4-way junction at mile 1.5. A primitive restroom is also available here, in case you drank too much water huffing and puffing up the headland.
Turn right down the road to return to the parking area, about 1.2 miles later.
Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition walked this route as they searched for a beached whale they had heard about from local Native Americans, making this the furthest west the party traveled during their 2 year expedition.
Clockwise or counter clockwise? Taking the trail clockwise - as I have suggested here - makes the trail steeper on the way out, with a gentler slope on the way down. This is easier on the knees, while running counterclockwise is easier on the lungs, as the steeper sections would be on your trek down the headland.
Also note: The route is technically a nature trail, with a brochure lining up with numbers along the trail that discusses the area's natural and historical heritage. If you take the loop clockwise, as I've suggested here, you'll need to read the brochure beginning at the end and working your way backwards through the numbers.