Hiking the wilderness coastal strip of Olympic National Park.
Hi Eric, I'm planning on hiking the coast this summer. Rialto to Shi Shi, do you have any tips or advice? Maybe a good website or guide to reference?
I started with my old hiking guide, "102 Hikes in the S Cascades & Olympics," published by The Mountaineers. It's decades old now, and has been replaced by more complete guides covering smaller sections of the state. My best source was the Olympic National Park website. They check a lot of hikers in and out for those beaches, and know what to look for. I brought USGS maps for the area, but the ONP backcountry office at Port Angeles sells a map to cover just the coastal strip in the same detail. It also shows approved camps and, at certain low passages, the highest tide that will allow you to pass with dry feet. The Park will charge you for the privilege of backpacking the beaches, but it's cheap entertainment. They will rent bear-proof food containers cheap to anyone who doesn't bring their own.
There's a big difference between June weather and July weather. We had some significant rain in July, but in June you may not see the sun at all.
Two reasons I chose the south portion, either of which may not apply to you: the N half involves that long drive off highway 101 to Ozette Lake or Cape Flattery makes dropping off a car a real chore, and since I was hiking with only my 12-y.o. son, there weren't many alternatives involving a second car. As it was, I searched the Forks Chamber of Commerce website and found a car-moving service for hikers. They were a husband & wife who, for a reasonable fee, rode with us to the Third Beach trailhead, then drove our car home for a few days, then left it for us at Oil City, on the Hoh River. It worked perfectly. I don't know if a similar service is available at the N end, or if you have that covered.
The other reason is that the N beaches hike is so popular that I wasn't sure we could get approved after driving all the way to P.A. The S hike doesn't suffer from that kind of overuse. If you hike the N part, you'll probably learn why it's so popular.
Go prepared to time you life by the tides, and you'll have a great time.
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Photo taken in Jefferson County, WA, USA
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