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Ozette to Rialto Beach Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Beach at Sand Point (Jerry Adams)
  • Start point: Ozette TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Rialto Beach Trailhead
  • Trail log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 20 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Yes, in the summer and early fall

Contents

Hike Description

There are about 50 miles of wilderness ocean beach in Olympic National Park, unique in the mainland United States. There are beaches, heads that are difficult to get around, rocks off the beach, and lots of wildlife. You should have the area mostly to yourself, except near Sand Point and Cape Alava on summer weekends. Definitely, there are no motors or tourist shops.

Several possible hikes include:

  • Sand Point Cape Alava Hike the loop from the Ozette Trailhead to Sand Point and Cape Alava is one of the most popular hikes in the area (which could be a bad thing on a summer weekend if you mind crowds of people). You can do it as a day hike, or a backpack.
  • Ozette to Rialto Beach Hike 20 mile beach hike, multi day backpack, requiring a car shuttle. Much less crowded after you get a few miles past the trailhead.
  • Third Beach to Oil City another multi day backpack requiring a car shuttle

You need to get permits for hiking everywhere - $15 for 7 days National Park fee, $5 camping fee, $2 per night per person camping fee. You need reservations for camping in the Sand Point or Cape Alava areas May 1 to September 30.

You need a hard sided container (for example, Bear Vault) if you're camping. This is to prevent raccoon and bear problems. There are so many people using this area that if they don't have this regulation then they would have pest problems. The ranger said there have been no cases of bears or cougars injuring humans (except hunters cornering bears - justice?) but they are around.

You need to do a car shuttle for this hike. Park one car at Ozette and the other at the Rialto Beach Trailhead. It's about 65 miles by car between these, and it's a long distance from Portland, so it's hard to do much hiking the first day. You might want to drive both cars to Ozette, leave one there, drive back to Rialto Beach, camp that night at Mora Campground, and then get an early start the next day.

Driving instructions from Ozette to Mora:

  • Hoko Ozette Rd. 21 miles
  • East on state route 112 10 miles
  • South on state route 113 10 miles
  • South on US 101 11 miles
  • West on La Push Rd 8 miles (follow signs to Mora Campground)
  • West on Mora Rd 5 miles (follow signs to Mora Campground)

The Ozette to Rialto Beach Hike starts at the Ozette Trailhead. There is one trail out of the parking area. You immediately walk by the ranger station and several information kiosks. The trail then goes on a substantial bridge over the outlet stream from Ozette Lake.

The trail then goes to a junction. You want to take the trail to Sand Point which goes to the left.

The Sand Point trail consists of about half board walk (which can be slippery when wet or icy) and half gravel. It's pretty level, it's 3 miles, you gain about 200' elevation. Mostly the trail is through forest with some clear areas.

The rest of the distance to Rialto Beach (17 miles) is along the beach. Beach hiking offers a number of challenges. Walking along the beach in sand or rocks can be hard on your ankles. It takes a little longer than on a good trail. There are numerous hazards, such as trees, that are easier to get around at low tide. At high tide, the beach is so narrow that it's more difficult to get around.

And then there are many heads to negotiate. At low tide you can walk around them on the beach. At high tide there are trails around the head, but the trails are steep, primitive, and can be muddy. Whenever there is a trail coming off the beach, it's marked with these round signs about 6 feet in the air. The ranger station has one of these signs so you'll know what to look for.

So, you want to be aware of when low tide is. See current tide table for the current tide table. Subtract 40 minutes from low tide for the tidal difference for LaPush and Quillayute which is pretty close for all of the Olympic Pacific beaches. If it's daylight savings time, add 20 minutes.

What you want, is to do your beach hiking within 2 or 3 hours of low tide. If you look at the tide table, you'll see that for only about half the days each month, is the low tide time convenient for hiking during the day +- 2 or 3 hours on both sides of low tide. For example, if low tide is at 6am you'd have to start hiking at 3am or 4am so that wouldn't be a very good day for beach hiking. In this example, the other low tide would be at 6pm, so you'd have to walk until 8pm or 9pm which wouldn't be very good either. You could get up early at 6am and walk for 3 hours, then spend the day hanging out, and then hike from 3pm to 6pm, but that wouldn't be as good as if low tide was in the middle of the day.

So, you get into this routine of hiking to the next campsite during the day for a few hours, then spending the rest of the day setting up camp, watching wildlife, lazing around,... This is a totally different experience than the Sand Point Cape Alava loop, for example, with just a short 3 mile stretch on the beach with only 2 heads that can be negotiated at high tide.

You could probably do the hike in two or three days. The list of campsites, below, should help to plan your trip.

Campsites (with drinking water) include:

  • Sand Point, mile 3, very busy
  • Ericson's Bay Trail, mile 3.6, can be busy with overflow from Sand Point
  • Yellow Banks, mile 5.4
  • Norwegian Memorial, mile 10, you might have to go about 1/2 mile South for drinking water
  • Cedar Creek Camp, mile 12, also a ranger station during the summer
  • mile 15
  • Chilean Memorial, mile 16.3
  • Hole in the Wall, mile 18, getting close to Rialto Beach so it's busier

Heads that are best crossed at low tide include:

  • mile 4.9
  • mile 7
  • mile 11.5
  • mile 14
  • mile 15
  • Cape Johnson mile 16
  • mile 17.5
  • Hole-in-the-Wall, mile 18

Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

There is a $25 National Park fee (for 7 days) that you have to pay in the parking lot.

There is a $5 camping fee plus $2 per day per person that you have to pay at the ranger station a short distance from the parking area.

Dogs are not allowed here, sorry.

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

More Links

More Information

Port Angeles Visitor Center (360) 565-3100

Forks Visitor Center (360) 374-7566

shuttle service

Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.