The wild Olympic coast is a national treasure. With most of our country’s shoreline altered by roads, cities, and mobs of tourists, it’s a blessing to have this stretch of wilderness beach to remind us of what we’ve lost. The wild coast is broken by roads on either side of the Quillayute River, but north and south of this obstacle stretches the most spectacular wild shoreline in the United States (outside of Alaska, of course). Both the north and south sections of the Olympic Coast have popular and highly rewarding hiking routes, and the hiker with adequate time and energy is encouraged to do both sections. On either trip you will see crashing waves, scenic offshore rocks, dense inland forests, and abundant wildlife.
The north section is longer but less rugged than the south, with fewer dangerous headlands to round or scramble over, less severe tide problems, and no difficult stream crossings. This section is also more crowded, which has forced the Park Service to impose a mandatory reservation and permit system in the very popular Sand Point/Cape Alava area. Note: Hikers with only one vehicle can use a shuttle service to move their car between trailheads while they hike.
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