Wildlife doesn’t take the season off.
Oswald West State Park, OR
Uninformed hikers may choose to hibernate during winter, but they’d be missing A-list migrations. From December through January, up to 20,000 gray whales move from the Bering Sea to lagoons on Baja’s Pacific Coast, passing Oregon’s northern shores, where sheer rock cliffs supply excellent vantage points. Pack binoculars and follow singletrack 2.4 miles on the Cape Falcon Trail for ocean views atop a 100-foot outcrop. “We’re close to a marine reserve, so there are plenty of nutrients for the whales,” says park ranger Amy Hurst. “Look for their spray.” Skunked on whales? Observe a different kind of behemoth by extending the hike to the 4.3-mile Arch Cape Trail to wander among 250-year-old Sitka spruce.
TRAILHEAD 45.763094, -123.956009; 89 miles west of Portland on US 101 PERMIT None CONTACT oregonstateparks.org