With the Cascades still under a thick layer of snow, we’ve been craving the chance to get out and do some hiking sans snowshoes. Thankfully, the Olympic Peninsula offers plenty of opportunities to do so and we were able to get a nice, long hike in during our long weekend trip there.
We opted to do the Ozette Loop, a 9.2 mile hike that takes you through thick coastal forests dominated by large cedar trees, meadows blanketed by wildflowers, and raw shoreline covered in tidepools and driftwood. Aside from being incredibly beautiful, Cape Alava is also the most westernmost point in the contiguous 48 states.
After an early departure from our hotel in Sequim, we arrived at the trailhead around 9:30am. The skies were blue and the sun was shining, a welcome relief from the weeks of clouds and rain that we had just experienced in Seattle.
Most of the trail is actually a boardwalk, which is nice, because if it weren’t for the planks we would be wading through mud and brackish swamp water. Be careful on the boardwalk, though, as it can be very slippery if it has recently rained.
The boardwalk continues through Ahlstrom’s Prairie…
and then through more forest…
Finally the beach comes into view, and, unsurprisingly, a thick layer of coastal fog. Hey, where’d the sun go? Welcome to the Pacific Northwest.
Sea stacks at low tide
Hiking along the shoreline can be a very slow process. There isn’t any elevation gain, but the slippery seaweed and rocks can present a few difficulties. Oh, the decomposing seaweed and crabs smells pretty bad.
There is a lot of driftwood to climb over and under
The beach is littered with maritime debris; fishing nets and buoys are everywhere
One of the most interesting parts of the hike was the stop at Wedding Rocks. Members of the Makah tribe carved petroglyphs into these rocks some 300-500 years ago.
Looking through a sea stack
If hiking during high tide, some of the headlands become impossible to walk around so you must go over with rope assists. We weren’t hiking during high tide, but Jay decided to hike over one of them anyway so I followed. In retrospect, this was a really dumb idea because I slipped down a particularly muddy trail and acquired a few scrapes and bruises. I would highly recommend timing your hike with low tide. Print your tide table from this site
View from the top headland
Looking toward Sand Point
The tide is starting to come in
Turn inland, and follow the boardwalk back through the forest
The end! The 9+ miles took us exactly six hours to complete. Overall, a great hike and worth doing if you want some excellent views of Washington’s wild coastline.
The rest of the photos are here.