Training & Gear

Training For CoastWalk Oregon

These tips offered by previous participants capture our own training recommendations:

“Train during the spring and summer by taking a number of 5-mile hikes and a few longer ones.”

“Be ready to hike all terrains and all weather conditions.”

“It isn’t as easy as it might look.”

Don’t attempt CoastWalk Oregon without training! To avoid injury and enhance your enjoyment of CoastWalk Oregon, gradually lengthen your training walks. Make sure you include hills in your training walks, as CoastWalk includes some significant elevation gain.

If you’ve trained adequately, by September you should be able to comfortably walk at least 6 miles and should have completed at least one 8-mile hike to be confident that you are able to walk that distance. Such training, wearing the footwear you plan to wear on CoastWalk Oregon, will not only increase your strength and endurance but will accustom your feet to many miles of walking and may help prevent blisters. Include some up-and-down walking in your training; CoastWalk includes both flat beach walking and headland hiking. Please check with your doctor if you have any uncertainty about your readiness for CoastWalk Oregon.

We expect participants to complete each day’s walk in no more than 5 hours, including stops. Portions of CoastWalk are close to roads, but other parts of the walk are on long sand spits or remote forest trails. Come prepared to walk the entire distance. There is no formal sag wagon. (But we won’t leave you behind.)

What to Wear and Carry

Dress in layers so you are prepared to peel off a layer as you warm up or add a layer if it gets chilly. Definitely carry (or wear) waterproof rain gear each day. We chose these dates in September in part because the weather tends to be ideal for walking then. But weather on the Oregon Coast is unpredictable! We expect to walk rain or shine.

A light day pack is adequate to carry extra clothing, water, and snacks. We recommend starting each day with two full water bottles.

Some people find trekking poles helpful, even essential, for preventing falls and helping to absorb impact on downhill stretches. Headland trails on the coast are often full of roots and rocks and can be steep; in these conditions trekking poles are especially beneficial. Every three-day CoastWalk Oregon stretch includes some headland walking.

Download our complete Gear and Clothing Recommendations.


You will be walking on a combination of beach and forest trail. Some trails are rocky and steep, with roots and mud in places. We suggest wearing lightweight waterproof boots or athletic shoes designed for trail running. (Boots provide more ankle protection and allow you to walk across small streams without getting your feet wet; some are as light as trail runners.) As you prepare for CoastWalk Oregon, walk in the footwear you plan to wear at the event, so your footwear and feet can adjust to each other before you put in 10 miles a day for three consecutive days.

Preventing blisters. Our experience aligns with advice from instructors at the National Outdoor Leadership School: the best way to avoid blisters on a long hike (in addition to breaking in your shoes, and feet, by walking) is to wear roomy footwear, which may mean boots or shoes a half-size (or more) larger than your daily-wear shoes. You might also find this article from REI on blister prevention and treatment informative.

We also like Dirty Girl Gaiters, very lightweight gaiters that help keep sand and debris out of your shoes. For women and men!

“‘Train up’ for 8 miles or so of walking. It will enhance your whole weekend: allow you to focus on friends, new and old; take in the gorgeous scenery; and appreciate NCLC’s accomplishments.”

—Donna, Eugene OR, CWO 2016-2017-2018-2019-2021-2022-2023