The hike to Harts Cove is an easy one — mostly downhill on a good trail that was marred in November by just a couple of muddy spots and washouts. The hike back out is when you’ll pay for the satisfaction of seeing a stunning ocean vista, watching the waves crash into a hidden cove and listening to the barks of unseen sea lions.
The trail descends 800 feet in about 2.5 miles from the trailhead to a meadow that overlooks Harts Cove. It would have been another 150 feet down to the shore; while the main trail to the overlook was easy to follow, finding a path down to the shore was not so easy, and I decided to pass on that trip on this chilly but sunny early winter day.
You’ll cross Cliff Creek and Chitwood Creek along the trail. On this day, a small bridge over Chitwood Creek was washed out, but the creek is small at this point and was still easily crossed without the bridge.
All in all, the scenery was spectacular — including Chitwood Creek falls that spill into Harts Cove — and the trail is easily reached from Lincoln City. This is a hike well worth your time.
Getting there: Head north out of Lincoln City on Highway 101. From the intersection of 101 and Highway 18, go another 4 miles, which will be shortly after mile marker 102. Look for a gravel road to the left — Cascade Head Road 1861; there will be a yellow gate at the road. From Jan. 1 to July 15, the gate will be closed, keeping vehicles off the road. From the gate, go 3.5 miles to the end of the road, where you’ll find the trailhead.