South Wilderness Coast

Forks, Washington 98331

South Wilderness Coast

South Wilderness Coast Professional Review and Guide

"A 17-mile one way backpack from the Third Beach trailhead to Oil City Road.

This extended beach hike runs from the La Push Road to the old Oil City site on the north bank of the Hoh River. The coastline is typified by sandy beaches interrupted by impassable headlands that require the use of trails that have been built over the bluffs and wood-and-cable ladders to help hikers up steep slopes.

Keep any eye out for bald eagles, which hunt the coastline in search of fish or beach carrion. Pods of killer whales are also spotted in this area on rare occasions."

South Wilderness Coast Reviews

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Having done this hike in the past, I knew what to expect on this point-to-point from Third Beach to Oil City. The trail itself is quite muddy, especially between Mosquito Creek and Oil City. The level of trash left by Memorial Day hikers was terrible. Still, the hike was enjoyable, weather was incredible, and we only met one other group in three days. Campsites at Toleak Point were in great condition, Mosquito Creek not quite as great. Fording Goodman and Mosquito Creek wasn't too difficult. All in all, a good time.
I had read about this trail in Backpacker Magazine as being one of the best in the Olympic National Park, and it did not disappoint. I hiked this solo in 2 days with one overnight at the Mosquito Creek Camp. I shuttled my car around to Oil City using a service that charged $50.00 I am a very experienced hiker, and while I mostly have hiked in the mountains, I loved the contrast of forest trail vs, beach hiking that this trail offered. It was quite challenging but very manageable for the most part. Yes, the ladders are steep, trails were slippery and muddy despite the dry weather. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HIKING POLES! They made all the difference. If you haven't hiked with poles, now is the time to start. The only problematic section was on the north side of Scott's bluff. The ladder there was missing and just a rope in its place. I hit the tide right, and was able to skirt around the bluff over very slippery rocks. (Stay on the barnacle covered rocks if able) Crossing streams at Falls Creek (stepping stones) and Goodman Creek (2 feet wade) were straight forward. Crossing Mosquito creek there was a log jam that made it easy. It also would be easily passable at low-medium tide. Campsite at Mosquito Creek was beautiful. Located 100 feet above the ocean with marvelous views to the west for sunsets. Water was immediately accessible. From the campsite south, the trail got significantly more technical with larger sections of muddy bogs, lots of up and down, and a final three rope/ladder descent to the beach. From there an easy stroll to Oil City crossing one more boulder field (with plenty of good footing) before returning to car. Eagles, Osprey, Heron, Deer, Racoons all seen. Food in bear proof containers required.
This was a very good hike and would recommed it. We turned around at Mosquito creek due to the tides. You might need 3 days to complete it if you don't make the tides right. Towards the oil city side of the hike it gets really rugged and muddy. All in all it was a great trip and the headlands were a blast.
Did Third Beach to Oil City (3 nights) for the first time with a group of high school kids. I remembered a few tricky ladders and that it was fun. Did Third Beach to Oil City (slept @ third beach, toleak point for 2 nights, then mosquito creek) for the second time in August 2008 with a group of woman aged 38 - 70. We averaged a mile an hour, especially over the headlands. The favorite quote was "If I'd known how hard it was going to be I wouldn't have come....but I'm really glad I did." Steep, muddy slopes; all steps and ladders built for 6' tall (not 5' tall) people; lots and lots of challenges. Important to time the tide right on the last day from Mosquito Creek to Oil City. We got up in the dark so we'd be sure to beat the tide.
I've done this trail twice, in March 2000 and August 2002. The winter hike was an epic thru hike from Third Beach all the way to Oil City. Two buddies were with me and we left a pickup car at the Oil City trailhead. Left Third Beach on Saturday and camped at Toleak Point. Bring a water filter and fill up. Not many water sources in 17 miles Do not miss the view from the pit toilet south of Toleak Point. Ancient lava/mud flows, sea stacks, pure sand beaches to explore all over. Second day was cold and rainy. I like the mixture of beach hikes and then climbing up the rope ladders to the rain forest trails. One river ford and one creek crossing before camping out the second night. Rain, hail and snow that night. Prepare for all types of weather on this trail in winter. Final day included a slimy bouldering over the incoming tide or else it was a long wait until low tide. Bowling ball size rocky beaches made me wish for trekking poles to help pick my route thru the ankle biting terrain. Made it to the Hoh river and the drift wood piles. Awesome. Took my wife back to show her Toleak Point in August 2002. The 6.5 miles hike was my wife's first backback. Total lovefest with nature in view. Lazy Blue herons to watch til the sun sets on the Pacific Ocean. The trails are wet year round. Be prepared. Third beach trailhead parking is supercrowded, but most people only go down to the Third beach and camp. If you go south to the first rope ladder climb, the crowds thin out by then. Be careful by the waterfall overlook and if you are going to take the low tide shortcuts around the rocky points, you have to time it just right or you will slosh through the tidepools. Best beach hike in Olympic Park, could be the best beach hike in Washington state. Go for it!
Hang your food, masked bandits would love to relive some of that pack weight for you. Board walks are quite slippery when wet, hiking poles help alot. Camped at Sandpoint, very nice sites all around, no fires allowed but still better than sites at Cape Alava where campfires are permitted.

Trail Information

Nearby City
17 miles
Trail Type
Skill Level
Spring through Fall
Olympic National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Quillayute Prairie, Toleak Point, Hoh Head; Custom Correct South Olympic Coast
Local Maps