Olympic Coast - North Backpacking

Forks, Washington 98331

Olympic Coast - North Backpacking

Olympic Coast - North (Backpacking) Professional Review and Guide

"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."

Olympic Coast - North (Backpacking) Reviews

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Gorgeous trail, if you don't mind clamoring over rocks, hopping from rock to rock, and wading in algae thick tide pools. We had the bad luck of rain on the first two days (day 1 was a half day only), meaning we were averaging 1M per hour because of the slickness of the rocks after the 1.5M mark north of Rialto Beach. I'd recommend starting at Rialto and going north -- get the tough parts done first and then enjoy sandy, gorgeous stretches after Yellow Banks. I went into this thinking there's some kind of hewn trail. Not so. The coast and however it meanders is the trail. Pay attention to the tides and plan your day's hike the day before. It is only 25 miles, and I initially thought to do 2 nights. I'm glad I made it 3 nights now, though it may be worthwhile to do 4 nights at a leisurely pace as well.
Outstanding trek we did the trail from Cape Alava to Mora Campground and back again in 5 days. There are long sections of nice sandy beaches which are nice and firm when the tide is ebbing. Note however that there are long sections of slippery rocks. Some of which are quite challenging. Take note of the tide warnings, there are few areas where you would be in peril if you miss the tide, but waiting for a few hours for the tide to go out can put a cramp in your schedule. The weather was gray, foggy, and misty four days out of the five we were there.

Olympic Coast - North (Backpacking) Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
600 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
3-4 days
Usually open all year, but best April to November
200 feet
Trailhead Elevation
Top Elevation
Olympic National Park, permit required for backcountry camping
Local Contacts
Custom Correct Map - North Olympic Coast
Local Maps