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Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach

Olympic National Park

Western Olympic Peninsula, Washington

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Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach

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  • The expansive sea stack collection at Point of the Arches.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • Southern view from a cove at Point of the Arches.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • The cove at Point of the Arches.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • The view to the south spans the entirety of Shi Shi Beach with Point of the Arches in the distance.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • Northern Shi Shi Beach.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • Northern Shi Shi Beach.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • Pristine coastal wilderness camping on Shi Shi Beach.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • Point of the Arches at dusk.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • Sunset on Shi Shi Beach.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • By-the-wind sailor (Velella velella).- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • These striations are visible at mid-low tide.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
  • The difference in tide here is quite significant. High tide hides all the rock formations in the surf.- Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Picturesque coastal wilderness. Seastacks. Tidepools. Magnificent sunsets.
Cons: 
Shi Shi beach access trail is often very muddy. Several fees required. Long day trip. Can be crowded at times.
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Region:
Western Olympic Peninsula, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Parking Pass: 
Makah Recreation Permit
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
8.60 mi (13.84 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
75.00 ft (22.86 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Shi Shi Beach is the most recently incorporated area of Olympic Coastal Wilderness, a 2.3-mile long majestic sand beach bounded at its southern end by an expansive cluster of sea stacks known as Point of the Arches. With Shi Shi Beach being perhaps the most pristine coastal area of Washington, Point of the Arches makes this adventure a true gem. 

Around the turn of the century, the old trail to Shi Shi Beach that crossed private property was closed. A new trail was then built by the Makah Tribe and now largely follows the old Shi Shi Beach logging road. The 2-mile long Shi Shi Beach access trail is relatively flat, with the exception of the 150-foot bluff at it's coastal termination. Boardwalk sections are prevalent early on, but they quickly give way to the wide, muddy remnants of Shi Shi beach road. Visitors should remain on the trail, as it is almost entirely located on the Makah Indian Reservation and only crosses onto National Park land near the end.

After descending the steep bluff (ropes are located in certain sections for assistance), visitors arrive at the very north end of Shi Shi Beach. A small grouping of sea stacks is located to the immediate right, to the north of which is a small, walled-in beach. Some inland campsites are located near the trail termination, but most camping is set up on the beach at the individual's discretion. The hike to Point of the Arches is 2.3 miles in length and spans the entirety of Shi Shi Beach. Freshwater sources are not plentiful at Shi Shi. Small streams can be found at times, but the only real reliable source of water is Petroleum Creek, located approximately 1.5 miles south of the trail termination. The area around Petroleum Creek is a frequent campsite for visitors given it's proximity to fresh water and Point of the Arches. 

Tide pools and coves teeming with sea life are abundant around Point of the Arches and the northern end of Shi Shi Beach. Bald eagles are frequent overhead visitors, while sea lions and whales also inhabit the Pacific waters in this area. The entire area is a photographer's playground.

A side trip to Cape Flattery, the most northwest point of the contiguous United States and a popular whale watching spot during seasonal migration, can easily be incorporated with a visit to Point of the Arches and Shi Shi Beach. Additionally, extended backpacking trips between Point of the Arches and the Ozette area to the south are possible with numerous camp locations in between.

A few notes regarding overnight trips in this region:

  • The trail to Shi Shi beach is often very muddy, especially after periods rain. Also, adventurers should carefully note tide conditions as several headlands must be crossed.
  • A Makah Recreation Pass must be purchased in Neah Bay prior to arriving at any trailheads on the Makah Indian Reservation ($10 as of this writing). Overnight trips to Shi Shi beach and Point of the Arches require a wilderness pass from the National Parks Service.
  • Overnight parking is not allowed at the Shi Shi Beach Trailhead, but it is available approximately 0.6 miles back down the access road ($10 per day as of this writing).
  • All food, garbage and scented items must be stored, overnight and when unattended, in park-approved Bear Canisters along the entire Olympic National Park Wilderness Coast. Buckets or other hard-sided containers are no longer permitted.
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Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

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(17 within a 30 mile radius)

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