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Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
17.50 mi (28.16 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.
  • Tide pools: At low tide, the ocean recedes to reveal an incredibly diverse mini-ecosystem in the rocks and shore. Tide pools 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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

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.

Trailhead Elevation

10.00 ft (3.05 m)

Net Elevation Gain

370.00 ft (112.78 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Wildlife
Whale watching
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Big Game Watching

Location

Field Guide + Map

Comments

05/16/2017
Hiked this at the end of April. I have a few suggestions!

-It.will.rain. This might seem obvious to most folks from the PNW. I am not from the PNW....but I thought I had all the right gear in place...turns out that the jacket I had wetted out within 4 hours of moderate to light rain, after which my baselayer started to soak. SO....make sure you have reliable rain gear and an extra baselayer (I had a single smart wool base). If you get caught on the beach because of the tide, you will be caught between the rocks and below the rain....you will get cold. All the more reason to make sure you have the right rain gear. It rained for the first 36 hours.

-tide charts will only help you gauge ...try to pass high tide points at most two hours before high tide. You will get caught sitting duck at some point, so bring a book.

-bring an extra tarp. This will not only prevent your tent from wetting out but also you will be able to deploy it and allow your rain gear to dry when waiting out high tide.

-if you have to wait out high tide, make sure to be up in the woods. You'll have the canopy for cover and won't have to worry about the tide creeping up on you. If you get caught on the beach, you will have no rain cover. It was difficult to find an area worth deploying my tent footprint on the beach before Scott's Bluff.

-hopefully you'll have some upper body strength to pull yourself up the steep muddy slope. Bring a glove to help you drip the guide ropes. A trekking pole should get you through.

-made it to Toleak in one day, so can you. Start early. That way you'll be able to explore the tide pools at Toleak at the end of the day. I didn't see any sea stars; I heard that the population was hit by some type of infection two years ago.

Train notes:

-Somewhere after Scott's Bluff and Strawberry Point, the train is washed away. All of the drift wood was shoved into the woods. Coming from the Bluff, find a good point to jump out on to the beach. You'll have to cross a little creek (Scott's Creek?). Remember that on the way back, otherwise you'll miss the trail.

-Goodman's Creek was too high to ford.
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