Don’t ditch your hiking gear just because of the cooler temperatures. According to Greg Johnston, the former outdoors writer for the Seattle PI and author of “Washington’s Pacific Coast: A Guide to Hiking, Camping, Fishing & Other Adventures,” winter is actually one of the best times to hike along the Washington Coast. So throw on some extra layers of clothes and head out to the coast to stretch your legs and experience the PNWs authentic beauty.
WHERE TO GO
SHI SHI BEACH
Shi Shi Beach and Point of Arches are at the top of the list when it comes to picturesque views of the wild and rugged Washington Coast. At only 8-miles round trip, this is a great intermediate hike down the rugged Washington Coast and is among the best examples of America’s natural beauty.
Begin your hike at the trailhead near the fish hatchery and wind your way through the forest toward the beach. There is a pretty steep descent down to the beach, but you will be rewarded with great vistas, plenty of coastal critters living in the tidal pools, and a breathtaking hike along the beach to the Point of Arches - a mile-long parade of rocky sea stacks.
Ozette Triangle (Cape Alava Loop) is two hikes in one: a forest stroll and a walk on the beach. The loop will take you out to the beautiful beach at Sand Point, and if you head north you'll be able to find Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous states.
You’ll start your hike at Lake Ozette, the largest unaltered natural lake in Washington. Cross the Ozette River on a beautiful arched bridge and away you go.
The roar and smell of the ocean become inescapable as you near the wild coast of Cape Alava. Arrive at the beach and enjoy the views and creatures that live in this isolated place. Tskawahyah Island is not far off, standing as a giant rock guardian complete with freestanding trees adorning the top. Watch the winter sun sink lower in the sky and return the way you came, or head south to explore the ancient petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks.
HOH RIVER to THIRD BEACH
This is one of the classic backpacks of North America. This trail is 16.1 miles of rugged coastline in the beautiful Olympic National Park. Backpacking along the beach is an absolutely amazing experience!
You can start this trail at either the Third Beach Trailhead or the Oil City Trailhead at the mouth of the Hoh River. This hike is part peaceful beach walk and part military obstacle course, which you’ll find out as you negotiate ladders and ropes through upland rainforest and rocky beach.
Without a doubt, this backpacking trip should be on every hiker's bucket list. It's an incredible, challenging, and serene adventure. Between hiking on sandy beaches, climbing up rope ladders, ascending bluffs on your hands and knees, and waiting for an outgoing low tide to make headland crossings, this trip is far more challenging than it may appear on paper. The trip can certainly be done in two days, but giving yourself three days will provide flexibility.
WHAT TO WEAR
The key when you head out hiking in the winter is you want to stay warm. Dressing up with layers makes for happy hikers:
- Your first layer should be a base layer made of either wool or polyester and be worn tight to the skin.
- The second layer is meant to keep you warm, it can be a down jacket or your favorite hoodie or wool shirt.
- The final layer should be waterproof and will protect you from rain, wind, and snow.
- Make sure to pack extra socks, mitts, hats, and neck warmers for everyone in your backpack.
STAY AT SEABROOK
During the winter, cabin fever can set in and that means it’s time to get outside! Book your stay at Seabrook and let Washington's Beach Town serve as your home as you explore the Washington Coast this winter.