Cape Alava Loop

Loop • 8.8 mi • 220 ft

Wander the wild, rugged outer coast on this 8.8-mile loop trail leading through coastal forests to miles of rocky tidepools, sea stacks, and arches. With its minimal elevation gain, the loop makes for an easy day hike, but an overnight stay will reward you with golden sunsets in summer and a deep immersion in the sights, smells, and sounds of one of the country’s few wilderness beaches.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Sekiu
Length: 8.8 total miles
Elevation Gain: 220 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Easy, due to minimal elevation gain and boardwalk trails to the beach
Duration: 5 - 6 hours
Season: Year-round; Best July through mid-October
Local Contacts: Olympic National Park
Local Maps: USGS Ozette Lake
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Recent Trail Reviews


We started our hike at the Ozette Trailhead. From the Ozette trailhead, you can hike 3 miles and arrive at either Sand Point, or Cape Alava. Sand Point and Cape Alava are 3 miles from each other, so it makes a great triangular hike. We wanted to see all 3 paths of this trek, so on the 1st day, we hiked the 6 miles to Sand Point and up the beach to Cape Alava. The section to Sand Point was cake... very easy through the lush green second-growth forest on a charming simple wooden boardwalk. The section up the beach, however, was not what we were expecting... more like devil's food cake! To get from Sand Point to Cape Alava, you have to go at the right time to avoid the high tide. One also has to pretend to be a mountain goat and trek over the top of rocks the size of basketballs and fields of slippery seaweed many inches thick on top of these lovely rocks. If we had not had our trekking poles, we would have simply turned around and stayed at Sand Point. We arrived at Cape Alava to our choice of the seven or so campsites. Cape Alava has an extremely slow grade into the ocean, therefore creating one of the largest tide pool fields I have ever seen. Aerosol cans, tires, large pieces of fiberglass from boats, huge pipes, several buoys were amongst the washed up garbage scattered within the driftwood and boulder maze on the beach. I was also disgusted by the amount of trash left by the backpackers at Cape Alava. Everything from plastic water bottles to old cans to hunks of plastic to ...yes...a child's standard size pillow complete with froggy pillowcase. Practice leave no trace or don't come at all! We headed out Sunday morning, this time making the trek between Cape Alava and the Ozette trailhead. It was an easy hike, very scenic and we even stopped by the old Ahlstrom's original pioneer homestead that is just off trail for a little history lesson. At what seemed our 500 millionth step, we stepped out to the last stretch of trail and back to our car... a great weekend!


This was a nice, flat, fairly easy, walk. We camped at Lake Ozette and did the counter-clockwise loop. Beautiful, old growth rain forest on the way in and the coast was just awesome. Truly untouched and wild. Makes you feel small. The walk down the coast was the most challenging part. Time it so it is low tide and look for the carvings. The walk back in stunk, thus the 4 star rating. Regrowth and flat.

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