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Cape Meares Lake | Guide, Fishing, Hikes | Bayocean Peninsula

Cape Meares Lake is a 158-acre lake at the south end of the Bayocean Peninsula. It's a beautiful place for paddling, fishing, and swimming.

The lake is right next to the Pacific Ocean and provides amazing views no matter where you are. You can walk all the way around the lake, cross the ocean on Bayocean Dike Road, and explore the peninsula park.

Cape Meares Lake is right next to the Pacific Ocean and provides amazing views no matter where you are. You can walk all the way around the lake, cross the ocean on Bayocean Dike Road, and explore the peninsula park.

The lake is also very close to Oceanside, a popular destination for both locals and tourists. It's also known as Bayocean Lake and is very shallow and, in parts, swampy. It's only 6' to 7' deep at its deepest and can get unusually warm during the spring.

Cape Meares Lake
Cape Meares Lake sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and Tillamook Bay

Cape Meares Lake History

The lake was formed after the Bayocean Spit was breached by a storm through biggs Cove. (The storm signaled the end of a troubled resort community.) The Army Corps of Engineers built the rock and sand dike along the east side of what is now the lake in the 1950s, and a new shoreline was established.

Views of the Cape Meares Lighthouse
The Cape Meares Lighthouse is one of the many attractions near the lake

The water behind the dike is Cape Meares Lake. It is fresh water that's gradually shrinking in size as the sand dunes encroach and sediment accumulates.

You might also want to explore information about Newport Lighthouse and the Heceta Head Lighthouse.

Visiting Cape Meares Lake

Fees/Passes: there are no fees for visiting Cape Meares Lake or for parking.

Parking: all the parking is along the road.

Dogs allowed? Yes! Dogs are allowed.

Fishing allowed? Yes, fishing is allowed.

Family Friendly? Yes, Cape Meares is a family-friendly destination.

Did you know? The cape is named after John Meares, a British explorer.

What to Do at Cape Meares Lake

At the lake, you can enjoy hiking, swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and much more. The lake is located along the Pacific Ocean, so there are plenty of possibilities for adventure nearby too.

Cape Meares Beach
Cape Meares Beach

The lake is also an ideal spot if you want to venture out of the water and explore the shoreline and the nearby towns. Nearby, you'll find Oceanside, a popular coastal town with a number of great restaurants and stores.

The Cape Meares Lighthouse

Another fun side trip is to visit the Cape Meares Lighthouse or Cape Meares Light. It's a classic black and white lighthouse situated on the cape, just south of Tillamook Bay. It is open to the public and was built in 1890.

The lighthouse originally had two keepers' houses and several other structures that were connected by a 1,000 ft walkway. It was deactivated in 1963 and replaced with a newer tower. The original was going to be demolished but after a great deal of public outcry, the plans were scrapped. Today, it's owned by Oregon State Parks Department.

Cape Meares Lighthouse
Cape Meares Lighthouse and the Pacific Ocean

In 1993, the lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Unfortunately, significant vandalism has posed an issue for the lighthouse. Especially in 2010, someone fired a number of rounds at the lighthouse, breaking the windows and parts of the historical lens. The damage cost more than $500,000 to repair the lens. The men responsible were arrested after a $6,000 reward was offered for information.

Fishing at Cape Meares Lake

Can you fish at Cape Meares Lake? Yes, you can! It's a great destination if you're interested in fishing for Largemouth bass, Rainbow trout, and Skamania trout. The best time to fish is around 6:00 AM.

Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge

The refuge is another great option for anyone visiting the area who is looking for something else to do near Cape Meares Lake. It's located in the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint area and supports thousands of nesting seabirds, including Peregrine Falcons.

It was established in 1938 as a sanctuary for breeding seabirds and other coastal wildlife. The sanctuary conserves plant life, monitors wildlife, and helps restore damaged habitats. Some other species you might see there include:

  • Harbor seals

  • Steller sea lion

  • Scoters

  • Goldeneyes

  • Buffleheads

  • Loons

  • Harlequin ducks

The Octopus Tree

Another entertaining attraction near Cape Meares Lake is the Octopus Tree. It's an incredibly Sitka Spruce, one of two famous trees in the area (the other being the champion spruce or largest spruce in the state).

are known

Cape Meares Lake Boat Launch

There are a few different boat launches that you might use at Cape Meares Lake. There is the Memaloose Point Boat Launch at the southern end of the lake, just off Bayocean Road NW. You could also use, if you're very determined, Mapes Creek Boat Launch, which is far upriver, next to Kilches Logging Bridge.

But, the easiest way to access the lake with a small craft, like a kayak, is to launch right off Bayocean Road. There are no fees!

Cape Meares Beach Trail

The Cape Meares Beach Trail is a popular, mostly easy (although there are some steep spots!) 1.5-mile hike in Tillamook, Oregon. It's a great hike that, at times, can get a bit muddy. But, in general, it is very beautiful.


Elevation Gain

Time Required


​1.5 miles

500 feet

​1 hour


View from Cape Meares
Views in the Cape Meares area

If you're interested in getting away from the crowds in the easiest-to-access part of the beach, take the trail to the end and enjoy some privacy in the harder-to-reach areas.

Cape Meares Lake Camping

If you're interested in camping near Cape Meares Lake, you're in lunch. There are a few different options you might consider. They are:

Kilchis River County Campground

This year-round campground is 8 miles northeast of Tillamook and 26 minutes, or 15 miles, from Cape Meares Lake, on Kilches River Road. It's a great campground for families.

It has 63 sites and allows tents and RVs. There are basic gravel lots, picnic tables, bathrooms, and more.

Cape Meares View
Beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean from Cape Meares

Cape Lookout State Park Campground

This campground is right along the ocean (but does not offer ocean views) and is also a popular day-use area. It also offers year-round camping. The campground boasts 170 tent-only sites, 39 full-hookup sites, and one electrical site with water.

There are also 13 yurts, 6 large cabins, a group camping area, and flush toilets. If you stay there, you'll also have access to hot showers and firewood for sale. The campground is 21 minutes from Cape Meares Lake.

Barview Jetty County Campground

The Barview Jetty County Campground is a year-round RV and tent camping area only 30 minutes from Cape Meares Lake. The campground offers cabins, a community shelter, beach access, jetty fishing, scuba diving, day use, and many viewpoints.

If you enjoyed visiting Cape Meares, you might also want to check out our guide to camping at Cape Perpetua!


Is Cape Meares Lake salt water?

Cape Meares Lake is fresh water, but there is a high percentage of salt water due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

What kind of fish are in Cape Meares Lake?

Some of the fish in Cape Meares Lake are Largemouth bass, Rainbow trout, and Skamania trout.

Where is Cape Meares Lake?

Cape Meares lake is adjacent to Tillamook Bay. It's at the south end of the Bayocean Peninsula.

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