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Tyson Gillard | 01.13.2016

Located in the northwesternmost portion of the continental United States, much of the Pacific Coast of Washington epitomizes wild and scenic nature in its most pristine form, stretching roughly 240 miles around the Strait of Juan de Fuca down the coast to the mouth of the Columbia River.

The coastline encompasses 40 miles of completely raw and undeveloped wilderness that is only accessible by hiking within Olympic National Park, three Native American reservations, countless islands and stack formations inhabited by protected wildlife, dense conifer old-growth forests, some of the most productive salmon estuaries and habitat, one of the southernmost snowy owl nesting areas, incredible tidal beaches for discovering shellfish, the longest continuous beach in the world (stretching 28 miles), six lighthouses, a World War II fortresses, and the state's oldest accommodation, the Tokeland Hotel. And all of it is best discovered by foot.

We've assembled a list the 16 best hikes to get yourself immersed in the best of what Washington has to offer. These hikes vary in length from a light stroll to a multi-day 21-mile backpacking excursion. Unlike the snow-covered trails of the Cascades, all of these hikes are accessible year round, and some are even best explored during the winter months.

From north to south:

  1. Dungeness Spit Hike. 11 miles total. Highlight: Overnight rental available at the Dungeness Lighthouse.
  2. Cape Flattery Hike. 1 mile total. Highlight: Northwesternmost point of continental U.S.
  3. Shi Shi Beach Hike. 3.2 miles total. Highlight: Sea stacks at the northern end of beach.
  4. Point of the Arches via Shi Shi Beach Hike. 8.6 miles total. Highlight: Picturesque remote coastal wilderness and stacks.
  5. Ozette Triangle Loop Trail Hike. 9.5 miles total. Highlight: Overnight backpacking in Olympic National Park.
  6. Ozette, North Sand Point Trail Hike. 6 miles total. Highlight: Day hike through old-growth forest to remote coastal beach.
  7. Hole-in-the-Wall, Rialto Beach Hike. 3 miles total. Highlight: Hike with the best tide pools on the coast.
  8. La Push, Second Beach Hike. 1.4 miles total. Iconic stacks and tide pools that are easily accessible.
  9. La Push, Third Beach Hike. 2.8 miles total. Remote beach with campsites.
  10. Olympic North Coast Wilderness Trail (La Push to Ozette): 21 miles total. Highlight: Thru-hike the most remote and scenic portion of Olympic National Park coastline.
  11. Olympic South Coast Wilderness Trail (La Push to Hoh River). 17.5 miles total. Highlight: An extended tour through some of Olympic National Park's most stunning coastal scenery.
  12. Oyhut Wildlife Recreation Area + Beach. 1 mile total. Highlight: Bird watching.
  13. Damon Point Hike. 4 miles total. Highlight: Snowy owl migration/nesting in January and February.
  14. Leadbetter Point Loop Hike. 3.8 miles total. Highlight: Bird watching on the northern tip of the Long Beach Peninsula.
  15. North Head Lighthouse + Bell's View. 1.5 miles total. Highlight: Historic lighthouse and panoramic views high above ocean.
  16. McKenzie + North Head Hike. 5.5 miles total. Highlight: World War II bunker, old-growth forest and historic lighthouse.

Comments

Hi -- thank you for the article and the beautiful pictures, but... "Located in the northwesternmost portion of the continental United States,..." --the northwesternmost portion of the continental United States is Alaska. You mean "contiguous".

We (I am not allowed out unsupervised) have done eleven of the sixteen--Cape Flattery twice.

Great web site; I look forward to exploring it more.

John Morelock
www.rungentlyoutthere.com
Short, easy hike to lighthouse with a gorgeous view as your reward. What could be better? This would be a great beginner trail for small children or people who are unable to do too strenuous of a hike.
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