If driving down the Oregon Coast and looking for a hiking trail, God’s Thumb is an easy, popular hike located just north of Lincoln City. We did this hike in March when it rains almost all the time, the temperature was in the high 40s and it rained on and off.
Hike to God’s Thumb is one of the must-do things on the Oregon Coast. It is an easy-moderate day hike that goes through the forest to a thumb-like cliff covered in lush green grass and stunning views of cliffs and coastline.
God’s Thumb Trail Stats
Distance – 4.7-mile loop (Includes Knoll)
Elevation gain – 1100 ft.
Difficulty – Easy to Moderate
Facilities – no bathrooms, no water filling station
Trailhead for God’s Thumb
One of the hardest things about God’s Thumnb hike is finding the trailhead. Unlike most other hikes, the trailhead is located at the end of the neighborhood road. Devils Lake Blvd dead ends into a cul-de-sac which also serves as parking and the trailhead called – Villages at Cascade Head Trail on Google Maps.
There is a sign stating, ‘Park HERE for the Knoll.’ Another parking area is located on Sal La Sea Drive, but there is only enough room for a couple of vehicles at the time which will eliminate the loop portion of the trail, making it the same way in and out using The Knoll Trail.
TIP: Keep in mind there are no bathroom facilities or water filling stations at either starting point, so come prepared for approximately 5-mile hike, out and back.
God’s Thumb Hike
Once parked at Villages at Cascade Head Trail you will see a green area with two hiking paths, one to the left and one to the right. You can start either way and make it a partial loop on the way back. We started going to the right (The Thumb Trail) and came back from the left (The Knoll Trail). The trail is really not marked at all and understanding your way around before setting off on the hike is crucial.
From the beginning, we realized that this was not going to be a leisurely hike, the trail was complete mud. We kept thinking this is just the beginning it will not be this way the entire trail. We were wrong. It did not matter how much we were trying to avoid getting mud all over our shoes and pants it was an impossible task and a few minutes into it we realized we are getting dirty no matter what and just stopped worrying about it.
The first part of the hike, approximately 1.5 miles is mostly uphill through a beautiful, forested area and with Logan Creek along the way. Then you will reach the top of the ridge and come to a fork in the road with an option to go left or right.
Going left is the hike to the Knoll and that will be your loop on the way back.
To the right is the way to God’s Thumb.
From here, you get a beautiful view of Salmon Creek to your right and start hearing ocean waves from the left. The trail to God’s Thumb starts off with steep downhill descent, and because of the mud and rain, it can be really slippery trying to hike down. Hiking poles were very helpful along with holding on to the tree branches where accessible.
Once down in the grassy meadow, it is time to hike back up again. The mud on the trail was so bad in this area, that some previous hikers had started a path next to the main trail which is where we ended up hiking most of the time too. As you are hiking up through the forest, even though you can hear ocean waves whipping away it is hard to believe that eventually you will be standing on the seaside cliff – High Meadow with amazing views all around.
Approximately 2.5 miles into the hike you will be standing in the meadow with the view of God’s Thumb right in front of you. Without trees blocking the wind, be careful not the get knocked down, especially if hiking with children.
From this point on, the trail gets very narrow while still steep, muddy, slippery, and windy. Hiking all the way to the summit may not be for everyone, especially during high winds. However, you can enjoy amazing views from any location here, just find a less windy spot to take the beauty in.
On the way back we took the same route back to the fork in the trail and then descended via the Knoll trail. Do not miss the viewpoint from the Knoll, it gives you a splendid view of Lincoln City and Devils Lake on a clear day. This is also a great spot to take another quick break while enjoying the view and with some luck, you may even run into an elk or two or deer. The way back on the Knoll trail was a lot less muddy than the Thumb trail and is all downhill.
At the end of the trail, you will come to a gate that usually stays closed, with a path around it for hikers. Once past the gate, the rest of the trail, back to the parking lot, is on the gravel road. Starting down Port Dr, then staying to the left and getting on Sal La Sea Dr (this is where the other parking is), then left again to get back on Port Dr.
Once on Port Dr., you will have to walk around another gate and a bridge over Logan Creek and finally back to the parking lot.
This hike can be done the opposite way and start at the Knoll, instead. Or use the Knoll both ways when it is too muddy on the Thumb trail and if you parked on Sal La Sea it cuts the hike down to approximately 4 miles.
Tip for the Best Experience
We did this hike in March when it rains almost all the time, the temperature was in the high 40s and it rained on and off.
Good waterproof hiking boots are a must. We also recommend hiking pants and a waterproof jacket with a hood. Pair of gloves was helpful to me as we were hiking on a cold rainy day.
Hiking poles are optional. We found them helpful to help with slipping and balancing ourselves on God’s Thumb, the wind was blowing hard that day.
As usual, when hiking layers are the best way to go as we experienced sunshine, rain, and very strong wind on this short hike. Also, it may be a good idea to bring a change of shoes and a bag to store the dirty ones in and not dirty up your car.
There are no restrooms or water-filling stations at the God’s Thumb trailhead. Make sure you come prepared.
GAIA GPS is Great For Mapping Trails
It may sound complicated and messy and believe us messy it is, but the view at the top is priceless! It is still not a well-known hike, and we only ran into a couple of other hikers which makes it even more enjoyable.