Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
8.60 mi (13.84 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.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Makah Recreation Permit

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.

Trailhead Elevation

75.00 ft (22.86 m)

Net Elevation Gain

200.00 ft (60.96 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Whale watching
Wildlife
Bird watching
Wildlife
Wildflowers
Fishing
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide + Map

Comments

06/04/2014
Be sure to hike in the center of the trail, even when muddy to prevent the trail from widening even further. If you wear sturdy sandals, you can just rinse your feet off in the surf when you get down to the beach!
09/02/2014
My wife and I went to Shi Shi for a three day trip starting the Tuesday after labor day. How amazing! And, we had the place virtually to ourselves. This is a must for anyone on the OP.
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