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Olympic South Coast Wilderness Trail, La Push to Hoh River

Olympic National Park

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Olympic South Coast Wilderness Trail, La Push to Hoh River
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Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Wild and scenic section of Olympic coast. No roads. Few people.
Cons: 
Numerous headland crossings require low tide. 4 river fords. Requires a shuttle.
Region:
Western Olympic Peninsula, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
National Park Pass
Total Distance: 
17.50 mi (28.16 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
10 ft (3 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
370 ft (113 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
One-way/Shuttle
Dogs allowed: 
No
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Rain throughout the day.
51°F
47°

Mon

Light rain in the morning.
57°F
44°

Tue

Light rain starting in the afternoon.
53°F
47°

Wed

Light rain throughout the day.
53°F
47°

Thu

Light rain throughout the day.
52°F
45°

Fri

Partly cloudy in the morning.
57°F
42°

Sat

Light rain starting in the afternoon.
55°F
37°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

Without a doubt, this backpacking trip should be on every hiker's bucket list. It's an incredible, challenging, and serene adventure.

Two sections of the Olympic Peninsula's coastline are completely undeveloped and uniquely spectacular. The first is a section of the Olympic North Coast Wilderness Trail that runs nearly 21 miles between Rialto Beach and Ozette. The second is this southern section that runs between La Push (Third Beach Trailhead) and the Hoh River (Oil City Trailhead) and totals 17.5 miles. Although this section has a nominal net elevation gain, the diverse terrain and trail requirements keep the hike in a moderately difficult category; between hiking on sandy beaches, climbing up rope ladders, ascending bluffs on your hands and knees, and waiting for an outgoing low tide to make headland crossings, this trip is far more challenging than it may appear on paper. The trip can certainly be done in two days, but giving yourself three days will provide flexibility.

Highlights along the route include:

  • Giants Graveyard: This is a cluster of roughly a dozen dramatic sea stacks that loom off the shore near Scott Creek.
  • Tidepools: At low tide, the ocean recedes to reveal an incredibly diverse mini-ecosystem in the rocks and shore. Tidepools are best at Strawberry Point and Toleak Point, where purple sea stars, giant green anemones, crustaceans, mollusks, mussels, crabs, and various other sea-creatures cohabit.
  • Sea Birds: Beyond the countless western gulls you'll see, watch for bald eagles, black oystercatchers, pigeon guillemont, common murres, and cormorants that call the countless offshore sea stacks home. Binoculars are a great idea.
  • Old-growth Forest: For the entire length of the hike, the boundaries of Olympic National Park protect a roughly 1-mile wide swath of forest that runs adjacent to the coastline. Eight-foot thick western red cedars, massive Sitka spruce, and western hemlock dominate the forest, particularly the section of trail between Mosquito Creek and Jefferson Cove.
  • River Crossings: Be prepared to ford several large creeks, including Scott Creek, Mosquito Creek, and two crossings at Goodman Creek, which can produce thigh-high waters during spring runoff.

Permits, Tide Charts and Shuttle Services

Wilderness Camping Permits are required for overnight stays in Olympic National Park, and permits are limited in some areas. Check here for more information, or call 360.565.3100. Bear canisters are also required, and having a tide chart is a must for this adventure. Both can be picked up at Kalaloch Ranger Station near Kalaloch Lodge or the Sol Duc Ranger Station just north of Forks.

If you don't have two cars, a shuttle service will be necessary to drop you off at your starting trailhead. Leave your car at your end destination. All Points Charters & Tours offers shuttle services for hikers, at roughly $150 for six people. Call 360.460.7131 for details.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(18 within a 30 mile radius)

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Published in collaboration with Oregon Field Guide

Oregon Field Guide is OPB's long-running local weekly TV series. The program covers natural resources, ecological issues, outdoor recreation and travel destinations across the Northwest region. This award-winning show is one of the most-watched local productions in the public broadcasting system.

Oregon Field Guide also extends the work it does in the field for the television series across radio and the Web, providing a greater degree of coverage.

Oregon Field Guide airs Thursday evenings at 8:30 p.m. and repeats Sundays at 1:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays, and at 7:30 p.m. Sundays.

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