Quote of the Month:

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own." - Charles Dickens

Cape Disappointment Trail

Parent Category: Pacific County
in Hiking
Created: 18 December 2015
Location: Cape Disappointment State Park, Pacific County

1,2 miles to Interpretive Center
2,4 miles – to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 300  feet
Highest Point: 250 feet
GPS Coordinates: N 46 16.724 W -125 57.01
Visitor’s Information:

Discover Pass Required

Pictures below will take you along a scenic trail to a wonderful Lighthouse. Enjoy the beauty of coastal scenery!

 Photo from the Cape Disappointment Trail, located in Cape Disappointment State Park, Long Beach Area, Pacific County
General Information:

Located on the Long Beach Peninsula, near the town of Ilwaco, Cape Disappointment State Park presents one of the best coastal recreation spaces in Washington State. It provides its visitors with twenty seven miles of scenic ocean shores, numerous short trails which allow exploring the beautiful territory of the park, two spectacular lighthouses (North Head Lighthouse and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse), camping possibilities and much more. The main appeal of this place is the combination of history and admirable nature with lots of sweeping views.

Cape Disappointment itself, located at the place where the Columbia River empties itself into the Pacific Ocean, got its name in 1788 from an Englishman, captain John Meares, who failed to find the passage over the Columbia River bar. But don’t allow this deceptive name to disorient you as there is no way to be disappointed by this amazing place.

The Cape Disappointment Trail is one of the most picturesque trails in the park. Its trailhead has quite a big parking lot, restrooms and some picnic areas with picnic tables.

Photo from the Cape Disappointment Trail, located in Cape Disappointment State Park, Long Beach Area, Pacific County

The first part of the trail will provide you with the views of Waikiki Beach, which is actually the only beach at this part of the Long Beach Peninsula allowed for swimming. Located in a small cove this lovely beach is a preferred place for many people. You may swim, go kayaking or just build the houses/huts out of driftwood which is abundant on the shore. It’s a beloved place for novice surfers, and a lot of fishermen settle on the part of the beach, covered with huge boulders, hoping for some catch. 

Continuing to follow the Cape Disappointment Trail you will reach the fork. Going east you will get to the lighthouse, and going west – to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Going to the Interpretive Center first, you will pass alder and Sitka spruce forest with the understory of dense ferns, climb a concrete staircase, leading to a spectacular viewpoint, opening for the visitors fantastic  views of Benson Beach, Peacock Spit and North Jetty. 

Photo from the Cape Disappointment Trail, located in Cape Disappointment State Park, Long Beach Area, Pacific County

Further the trail will bring you to Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. This is an interesting museum, providing the information on the history of expedition of Lewis and Clark, and the Corps of Discovery. Entering the Interpretation Center requires an additional fee.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center was built on a cliff, facing the Columbia River. There is also a concrete railed path at the front part of the center, which is a great overlook.

The Interpretive Center Is built on the remnants of the Fort Canby gut fortress, created to protect the entrance to the Columbia River against modern at that time warships and other threats. You may also find a Battery Harvey Allan here, constructed by the Army in 1905 as a part of modernized defenses of Fort Canby. What once was a military strategic site now opens its dark concrete corridors and facilities for the exploration by the tourists.

Passing the dilapidated military facilities continue following your trail, this time heading to the lighthouse. You will pass the parking lot for disabled people, and then a little bit further, if you look down you will see the Coast Guard Station which is actually the largest station on the whole Northwest Coast. Why was it needed at this place you would ask. It’s easy – this part of the Columbia River is considered one of the most perfidious river bars in the whole world. Due to the quantity of shipwrecks suffered near this river bar this place gained the name “The Graveyard of the Pacific”. 

Photo from the Cape Disappointment Trail, located in Cape Disappointment State Park, Long Beach Area, Pacific County

The next splendid view the Cape Disappointment Trail opens in front of the hikers is one of the Dead Man’s Cove. Its beautiful beach with a lot of driftwood, scattered on the sand, is closed by Coast Guard for swimming, but that doesn’t stop some people from experiencing an adventure, breaking the rules.

Photo from the Cape Disappointment Trail, located in Cape Disappointment State Park, Long Beach Area, Pacific County

After the Dead Man’s Cove you will reach in a short time the concrete road, leading to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. It was created in 1856 and is reckoned as the oldest lighthouse, which is still in operation, on the west coast. You cannot enter the lighthouse itself, but you can walk along the observation deck, enjoying the breathtaking views of the majestic ocean. It’s also reported as a perfect place for whale watching. 

And if you have enough time to stay there to meet the sunset, you will be just mesmerized by the fantastic views lit by the declining sun!


These pictures were taken in August, 2015

Driving Directions:

If you are driving from Seattle, you should first take I-5 and travel to Olympia, then go west on SR 8 to Montesano. After Montesano take US Hwy 101 driving south to Long Beach Peninsula.

GPS Coordinates: N 46 16.724 W -125 57.01 

In order to get directions click on the map below:


Photo: Roman Khomlyak

Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska

Information: Svetlana Baranova

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