Olympic National Park is said to be three parks in one, offering visitors a chance to see rainforests, glaciated mountains and the longest stretch of undisturbed coastal wilderness in the lower 48. Full of wonder and amazement around every corner, Olympic National Park’s natural beauty stuns all who explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. While I personally think the entire park is underrated and an amazing place to explore and hike each week, one area that gets less popularity than it should is the 73 miles of coastal wilderness of Olympic.
Best seen during low tide, the Washington Coast’s Olympic beaches give those who make the drive west access to some of the wildest and most beautiful beaches in the world. These beaches are not for sunbathing, but for exploring tide pools, beach combing, backpacking, and hiking along the Pacific Ocean. Home to awesome sunsets, incredible history and hidden secrets, making the Olympic Coast your weekend or vacation destination is one of the best choices you can make. Don’t believe me, discover these 7 amazing locations! Also, take some time to thank CoastSavers for keeping the beaches clean.
Shi Shi Beach
Highlights: Point of the Arches
Hike Info: A long drive from most of the world, the distance to Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches is one of the most memorable and gorgeous beaches in the world. Home to world class scenery that make every picture look like something out of National Geographic, visitors experiences views of sea stacks, rock formations, tide pools, eagles and the occasional whale sighting. At eight miles round trip, with just 200 feet of elevation gain, this trail is family-friendly and one of the beach iconic beach hikes in the National Park Service.
Hike Info: Best hiked as a triangle, the Ozette triangle is a nine mile hike through forests, over coastal marshlands and eventually leading to one of the most popular beach wilderness backpacking destinations in the world. While camping is available, the trail can be hiked in a day and is enjoyable for nearly all levels of modern adventurers. The trail is broken up into three sections- the initial boardwalk, the beach and the return boardwalk. Halfway along the beach, a small trail is visible to a seasick known as Wedding Rocks, now a site of ancient petroglyphs. With eagles visible, abandoned homesteads to look at and tide pools to explore, Ozette is an awesome trip no matter how long the drive.
Highlights: Hole in the Wall
Hike Info: Considered to be one of the classic, beach day hikes in Olympic National Park the trek down Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall is easy, beautiful and a perfect representation of the ruggedness of the Washington Coast. With sea stacks, tide pools, and a chance to see seals, otters and even a whale, the four mile round trip hike is ideal for everyone. There is a small creek crossing along the beach, but wet feet are well worth it once you see the gorgeousness of Hole in the Wall.
Highlights: The Arch
Hike Info: More rugged than Hole in the Wall, Second Beach is another one of the 3 incredible beach hikes in the LaPush region of Olympic National Park. At just four miles long round trip, Second Beach’s lack of an original name is more than made up for with views of sea stacks, crashing waves, tide pools and wildlife sightings. Gazing at Second Beach for the first time, it is easy to see why the LaPush called this place home thousands of years ago. Take me time, explore the coast and stay for one of the best sunsets on the planet.
Highlights: Strawberry Bay Falls
Hike Info: One of the “hardest” hikes along LaPush beach system, Third Beach offers not only an opportunity to walk along a stunning section of coastal wilderness, but also a chance to see a waterfall plunge directly into the Pacific Ocean. At just 3.6 miles round trip, Third Beach is less visited than the region’s other beaches, giving a chance at solitude in a normally popular area. To get a glimpse of Strawberry Bay Falls, head south along the beach until the seasonal falls comes into view.
Hike Info: At just 1/2 of a mile of hiking round trip, Ruby beach makes for a perfect destination for those looking for limited hiking with maximum rewards. With stunning sea stacks, incredible coastal views, tide pools, eagles, otters and more, Ruby Beach is sure to become a family favorite and the site of some of the most spectacular sunsets in America. If you haven’t been to Ruby Beach, do not pass it up- it is a local classic that deserves all the praise it can get, for it is one of the true jewels of Olympic National Park.
Highlights: Tree Root Cave
Hike Info: Kalaloch Beach is best known for having an amazing lodge, fantastic camping and as one of the best locations for sunsets and storm watching in the State of Washington, yet the true hiking highlight is little know. Along sandy beaches full of eagles, clams and a smattering of tide pools, many who explore the region discover the famous Kalaloch Tree Root Cave. While there are other hikes in the region, exploring the beach and seeing this tree will make Kalaloch remain forever enshrined in your mind as a beautiful wonderland.
Bonus: Cape Flattery
Highlights: The Northwestern-most Point in the Contiguous United States
Hike Info: Located outside Olympic National Park on the Makah Reservation, the Cape Flattery Trail is short, beautiful and well-worth the long drive to the most remote corner of Washington State. AT just 1.5 miles round trip, this trail weaves through coastal forests, over cedar-planked raised walkways, eventually leading to one of the most-rugged and beautiful overlooks in America.
Discover a Hike a Week through Doug Scott’s Olympic National Park Area Guidebook