North Head Lighthouse, Ilwaco

#2 of 10 in Things to do in Ilwaco
North Head Lighthouse is an active aid to navigation overlooking the Pacific Ocean from North Head, a rocky promontory located approximately two miles north of Cape Disappointment and the mouth of the Columbia River, near Ilwaco, Pacific County, in the U.S. state of Washington. It is part of Cape Disappointment State Park.
The North Head Light was constructed in 1897 after mariners complained that the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, installed in 1856, was obscured to ships approaching from the north by the headland extending southwest from the light. The new lighthouse was designed by Carl Leick, with a 65ft tower set on a 130ft cliff directly facing the ocean and clearly visible to ships traveling from the north. Other buildings included two oil houses east of the lighthouse, a keeper’s residence, duplex housing for two assistant keepers, a barn, and outbuildings, all of which remain on site.
The first-order lens at the Cape Disappointment Light was moved to North Head and was first lit at its new location in 1898. In 1935, the first-order lens was replaced by a fourth-order lens. That lens was eventually replaced by an aerobeacon in the 1950s, and later by a modern optic mounted outside the tower. A Crous-Hinds aero marine beacon was put into use at the lighthouse August 1, 1961, and the light was automated in December of that year. A VRB-25 aerobeacon was installed in 1999. The original first-order lens is on display at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Cape Disappointment State Park. The fourth-order lens is exhibited at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon.
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North Head Lighthouse Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
204 reviews
  • So gorgeous. I loved this easy hike. What amazing views. I highly recommend you visit. We had perfect weather, bring a jacket for the wind though.  more »
  • My boyfriend reserved the north Head lighthouse keepers residence and we stayed 4 days and 3 nights. The house itself is absolutely beautiful inside it is stocked with everything you need! The...  more »
  • This was so much fun! The paced trail was very accessible, and the view spectacular. The $2.50 fee was more than worth it to climb to the top. If you're afraid of heights, maybe skip the climb, but even seeing the lighthouse was well worth it.
  • Beautiful views! Lots of construction right now so you can't get to the lighthouse but you can get close enough to take pics. Bunkers and other sights to see nearby. Nice hiking trails. You can ride your bike into park on Discovery Trail.

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