A trip to Cannon Beach is not complete without a close up view of its most prominent sea stack, Haystack Rock. Visible in the distance from Ecola State Park and not far from the southern end of downtown Cannon Beach, Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site is less than a mile from this sea-sculpted rock and the craggy needles nearby. On a clear day, you can even glimpse Tillamook Light in the distance. Remarkably, all of these views require minimal walking on easy terrain.
We visited on a crisp sunshiny day just prior to Christmas. Heading straight for the sand, we strolled with our small canine friends, all of us immensely enjoying the fresh air, beautiful views, and the nearness of the sea. Our girls ricocheted around excitedly harnessed to the end of their double barreled leash, peering up at us now and then with sand mustaches. Fellow sightseers included singles and couples with cameras or dogs, as well as a group planning a holiday family portrait, one fellow decked out as a skinny Santa. This group ended up with soggy shoes when the thin surf at the water’s edge deepened by an incoming wave, surprising them while they were engrossed in posing. This did not dampen their spirits. Their laughter at this foible was a suitable accompaniment to the festive air of a magnificent winter day at the beach.
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I’m always thrilled to find a beach I can walk on, and Tolovana Beach is a perfect candidate. The step count above reaches the sand via a broad ramp; the distance drops to a mere 25 steps if utilizing the stairs. Strolling options from here are as variable as the weather, ocean conditions, and tide level. My route headed 50 steps from the ramp landing, past the stairs, to a flat-topped rock suitable for resting. I snapped photos and enjoyed the scenery while my husband and pups went for a little run. When they returned, we beelined it together toward the frothy water, about 150 steps (distance varies by the tide, of course). After watching up close the waves lap the shore, I utilized the same rock for more resting and sightseeing before returning to the car. All in all a very enjoyable outing!
If sand is not your thing – whether by choice or physical necessity – you can still partake of the Tolovana Beach beauty. There is a seating area on the low bluff overlooking the beach where all views available from below can also be had. Camera, binoculars, a packed lunch: all of these could enhance your stay, but none are actually necessary.