God’s Thumb is a hiking trail located just outside of Lincoln City, Oregon. This hike is worth the drive for the stunning views and coastal forest. God’s Thumb can be found by taking a detour off “The Knoll” hike and can be a bit confusing the first time you hike it to determine where to go. In this post, I’m covering some of the directions, what to know before going, and some of my favorite things to bring on hikes.
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Hiking Guide to God’s Thumb and The Knoll
If you’re coming from Portland, there are a couple of different routes you can take but all lead to OR-18. Once you’re on OR-18, continue towards Lincoln City. As you’re entering Lincoln City you will come across the first stoplight (right next to a large sign to Mo’s) and take a right onto NE Devils Lake Blvd. Take this road all the way to the end where you will find an empty cul-de-sac. This is the only place that you can park for this hike. In the past, there has been complaints of hikers walking through private property. There are parking spots marked along the cul-de-sac and down the side of the road. This hike can get busy and they do fill up. If you arrive pretty early, however, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a parking spot close to the trailhead. Pop this location into maps for a more definitive location.
There isn’t much in terms of amenities at the trailhead. There is a sign for “The Knoll,” but no bathrooms, garbage, or the like. Make sure to pack out what you bring in (including doggy bags!). There is no fee or need for a pass to park at this hike, which is a bonus!
I hiked counterclockwise, heading past “The Knoll” sign at the trailhead, but I recommend hiking clockwise so you can hit both The Knoll and God’s Thumb without having to backtrack! Going counterclockwise, you will start towards the left with the parking lot behind you. You will come across The Knoll first which is a large grassy hill with a great view of Lincoln City and the beach. There will be signs along the way for The Knoll, but no signs for God’s Thumb. Once you’ve passed The Knoll going clockwise, you will come to an area in the undercover of the trees with a fork in the path. If you take a right, it will take you back to the parking lot. Take a left going clockwise to get to God’s Thumb (or, if you are going counterclockwise, take a right!). This will lead you down a hill and back out towards the ocean rather than back towards the direction of the parking lot. This is how you know you’re going the right way.
According to AllTrails, this hike is 4.3 miles and 1,131 ft of elevation gain. There are some steep sections that make it a workout, and other parts of the trail that are completely flat. Overall, it’s a moderate trail that some beginner hikers may have trouble with.
God’s thumb is stunning! You’ll know it when you see it after coming out of the forest. This part of the hike is a great place to come and take pictures or have lunch. It is much steeper and larger than it appears in pictures and the path is along the edge of the cliff. I brought my dog with me on the hike (dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash at all times!), and opted just to stop for the view of God’s Thumb rather than hiking to the top of the thumb itself. I wouldn’t recommend going down the hill and back up to the top of the thumb with kids, or if you have a younger pup that might pull while hiking. Just something to keep in mind!
- This hike can get pretty muddy! If you’re going during any time besides summer, check the weather because this can make the trail slippery. Hiking boots can also make all the difference.
- This trail is popular and during the afternoon can get busy. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, make sure to come earlier in the morning. The “thumb” itself is pretty small and can only hold a few people so you might have to wait for someone to come off before heading up.
- If you’re bringing your dog, prepare ahead of time to pack doggy bags out with you. There was a lot left at the beginning of the trailhead hidden behind signs. If you’re looking for a contraption so you don’t have to pack them inside your car, check out this magnetic doggy bag garbage to pop on the outside of your car.
This is honestly a great hike and one that I don’t think many people know about in the PNW! It was definitely worth the drive from the Portland area.
If you enjoyed this post or are looking for other hikes in the Pacific Northwest area, be sure to check out the other hikes that I’ve posted. I linked a few of my favorite hikes in the area below!
- Lewis River Falls | Trail Route, Hiking Tips + Best Time to Visit! (SW Washington area)
- Trail of Ten Falls: Silver Falls State Park (Salem area)
- The Best Hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (SW Washington area)
- The Best Hikes in the Columbia River Gorge (Portland area)