Dec. 16, 2011

Olympic National Park Daytrip #4 – Ozette Wilderness Hike

As the fourth of our five Olympic National Park Daytrips, the Ozette Wilderness Hike is certainly not to be missed! Described as a truly spectacular look at the rugged Washington coast, people from all over the world find themselves mesmerized by this unique day hike. Ozette Coast Did you know? The old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest produce three times the biomass (living or once living material) of tropical rain forests. This fascinating and picturesque adventure will take you along three miles of pristine northwest beach bracketed by two, three-mile boardwalk trails through deep coastal forest. It is advisable to begin your journey early in the day to enjoy all nine miles of this stunning trail loop. The drive is about three and half hours from Pacific Beach which is a much shorter journey that the typical five hours it usually takes from Seattle. Getting there: From Pacific Beach, follow highway 109 to the Moclips Highway. Head East to 101 north past Forks, turn north at Sappho to 112, turn west on 112 to Sekiu, and turn off as above to Ozette Lake. Ozette MapOzette Directions You will find the trailhead to the Ozette Coastal Wilderness Loop Trail at the Lake Ozette Ranger Station which is open daily from June through Labor Day and intermittently through the rest of the year. For information call (360) 565-3100 or visit the National Park Service or Olympic National Forest for fees, hours of operation, and park notices. You can also download an informational flyer here from the National Park Service describing the Lake Ozette Area. Also, be sure to wear soft-soled athletic shoes over traditional hiking boots for this adventure as the cedar plank walkways can be somewhat slick. Also, bring a lunch and plenty of snacks for yourself as well as a camera to capture the many seals, deer, eagles, osprey, otters, and whales often seen on this trail. Remember however, that this is wilderness beach travel so, please inform yourself of the tide changes throughout the day. Ozette Loop Coastal CliffOzette Boardwalk Trail Begin your hike by traveling on the three miles of plank-and-stair trail leading to Cape Alava. At around 2 miles (two-thirds of the way to the beach), the trail passes through a prairie, making the walk a bit more interesting. One mile later the trail descends slightly until it reaches the wild, beautiful beaches. When you arrive, you'll find grassy camp sites, beach access, bird-watching, wildlife, and scenic vistas of sea stacks making it an ideal spot to rest before beginning the beach portion of the loop. Trail to Cape Alava Cape Alava with its rocky shores and tidepools is perfect to explore at low tide. This is also near the site of an ancient Makah village partially buried in a mudslide over 500 years ago. Artifacts recovered from this site can be viewed at the Makah Museum in Neah Bay, however the site is now closed and is marked by a memorial kiosk. In the three miles between Cape Alava and Sand Point, there are no headlands that can't be either rounded (at low tide) or overland hiked (at high tide). When high tide drowns the beach, you can use the coastal trail, which follows the beach just a few feet above the high tide line. The trail is brushy and primitive along this stretch, but it will get you there safely. Cape Alava Sunrise Approximately one mile south of Cape Alava is an area known as Wedding Rocks. Marked by the first headland south of the Cape Alava trailhead, this area is known for the dozens of Native American petroglyphs of whales and other animals left there some 300 years ago by the Makah and Ozette tribes. Look for these markings on dark volcanic rocks at beach level just south of the large outcropping. Many are below tide line and all require some searching. Note: Water is available at Wedding Rocks and also at each of the trailheads. Streams that reach the beach are stained brown by root tannins and although proper filtering or boiling makes the water potable, it still looks and tastes less than appealing. Wedding Rocks PetroglyphsLake Ozette
After leaving Wedding Rocks and traversing the two more miles of pristine rocky beach, you will reach the formation of Sand Point, a scenic place for a snack break before heading inland on the final three miles of boardwalk that returned us to Lake Ozette and the Ozette ranger station. Sand Point also marks the southern tip of this 9-mile triangular trail offers agate hunting and is home to a large sea otter population. A turn inland will lead you to a level 2.8 mile planked trail back to Lake Ozette (the third-largest lake in Washington State) and the Ozette Ranger Station where this loop began. Next week, we take a break from our daytrips to enjoy the holiday season, but we'll take you to our fifth and final Olympic National Park Daytrip before we ring in the New Year! In the meantime, let us know if you've ever hiked through the Ozette coastal wilderness and tell us what amazing sights you saw on your journey!
By: Ivo Andov    Comments: 1
I haven't hiked this area yet, but I am completely inspired by these pictures to make this my next day hike!
Jen Lampe December 16, 2011 4:11pm

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