As you get closer to Cannon Beach , Haystack Rock looms large above the long broad beach. This is the third-highest sea stack in the state, measuring 235 feet high. As part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, it has wilderness status and is off-limits to climbing. Puffins and other seabirds nest on its steep faces, and intertidal organisms thrive in the tide pools around the base.
The surrounding tide pools, within a radius of 300 yards from the base of the monolith, are designated a “marine garden”; it’s open to exploration, but with strict no-collecting (of anything) and no-harassment (of any living organisms) protections in effect.
Flanking the mountain are two rock formations known as the Needles. These spires had two other counterparts at the turn of the 20th century that have gradually been leveled by weathering and erosion.
Old-timers will tell you that the government dynamited a trail to the top of Haystack in 1968 to keep people off this bird rookery. It also reduced the number of intrepid hikers trapped on the rock at high tide.
Volunteers from the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (503/436-1581) are often on the beach with displays, spotting scopes, and answers to many of your questions. Spend some time chatting with these folks, but don’t forget to listen to the beach’s own distinctive voices. You can’t miss the cacophony of seabirds at sunset and, if you listen closely, the winter phenomenon of “singing sands” created by wind blowing over the beach.
Beach access to Haystack Rock is available at the west end of any public east-west street. From downtown Cannon Beach , Harrison Street works well; south of downtown, Tolovana Beach Wayside has a large parking area and easy beach access.