Cape Lookout/Andersons Viewpoint
Cape Lookout is a coastal ridge soaring site located about 12 miles southwest of Tillamook and 12 miles north of Cape Kiwanda on the coast highway. Launch is from a roadside pullout overlooking the beach and just uphill from the Andersons Viewpoint parking area. The beach between launch and the campground is the designated landing zone.
You can either drive or walk from LZ to launch. LZ parking is at the south end of Cape Lookout State Park. From there, drive out to the highway, then south about 1 mile to the viewpoint. Parking at the viewpoint is limited; please carpool and park elsewhere if possible. To walk, go south on the Cape Lookout trail from the park. After about 15 minutes you will pass below the parking area. There is a trail through the brush right up to the parking lot.
Soaring is possible in northwest winds along the cliffs that angle southwest toward the Cape. Winds of 8-10 mph at launch are soarable for paragliders; less than that will be a sled ride. Keep in mind that wind speed 20 feet above launch can be 5 mph greater than on the ground. If the wind at launch is above 10 mph, the Cape can generate so much lift that you may need to fly north along the beach to get down to land. If the wind speed picks up while you're in the air there is danger of being blown back over the south side of the Cape; one pilot who had this happen reported "an extremely turbulent flight down with the backwash off the [Cape]." The rotor is unpredictable so the beach south of the Cape is not a reasonable landing area, it should only be used in an emergency.
The area below launch is brushy and the cliffs are tree-covered, so constant attention to the terrain is required while flying. To the left of launch, the cliff leaves the beach and enters the ocean. Don't fly left over the ocean unless there is lift; water landings can be life-threatening. The sheer cliffs go straight down to the surf so there are no landable areas at the base of the cliffs.
There are two gaps in the cliffs to be aware of. The first is about 2,500' south of launch. Anyone crossing this gap should be aware that, unless lift can be found beyond the gap, it is going to take a high starting altitude (usually at least 800-1,000 feet) to cross the gap and return safely to the beach. The amount of altitude will vary with the conditions but is considerably greater if there is a north component to the wind, which will slow down the return. In these and other non-typical circumstances, altitudes in excess of 1,000 feet may be required for a safe return. It is also likely that a pilot who attempts to cross the gap in either direction at a relatively low altitude will encounter rotor turbulence, sink or both. A few pilots have found it necessary to make an emergency landing in the small patches of salal beyond the gap (requiring a difficult hike out) and at least one pilot has ended up in the water after crossing the gap with insufficient altitude for a safe return, an experience from which she was lucky to have been rescued alive. It is highly recommended that any pilot who is not very experienced both in general and at this site cross the gap only with a pilot with such experience who has agreed to act as a guide. Another warning: Do not track low back into the creek canyon in the first gap as you can get pinned in diminishing lift and increased headwind.
There is a second gap in the cliff about one mile out along the Cape itself; don't cross the second gap unless there is sufficient lift to get you across and back. Beware: when there is a stronger north component to the wind there is a fast tack out along the Cape and a slow tack back to in the beach. It is possible for paragliders to get trapped out on the Cape in north wind conditions. If this happens it may be better to make an emergency landing in one of the tiny brushy areas out on the Cape rather than risk the possibility of not making the glide back to the beach.
Don't let this happen to you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljSJe_Mf-qA
The viewpoint is a popular stop for tourists to take photos of the beach north of Cape Lookout. If a car is parked in the launch area, be courteous when you ask them to move. It's not unusual for a crowd to gather to watch a launch. For safety, ask all spectators to clear the area behind launch and to stand at least 30 feet from either side of the glider. Land as far away from people on the beach as possible. Do not top land at launch for safety reasons. It's a 40 mph highway next to launch! We are lucky to have the use of this site. An injury to anyone could shut it down. Fly safely!
Amended Regulations 4/8/2003
Landowner Info: Launch is on state park land, LZ is in Cape Lookout State Park.
Other Info: Camping in Cape Lookout State Park
Site Liaison: Mark Sanzone
Submitted By: Steve Roti, last revised 5/18/2011
Reviewed September 2014 by Mark Sanzone
Landslide of June 18, 2005 Large image on new page.