Stunning views of seastacks await on this scenic beach traverse on the Olympic Peninsula. Day hikers and backpackers alike will enjoy rugged coastline, stream crossings and tidepools from the outset of this route, which can easily continue 20 miles north to Cape Alava for those interested in truly getting away. Regardless of the amount of time you have, Rialto Beach offers a refreshing respite from the interminable snow and avalanche danger plaguing many popular Seattle-area trails—and is a unique destination in its own right.

Seastacks ©Jenni Denekas

After stepping through a small cluster of gnarled trees and driftwood to reach the beach, you will be greeted with a spectacular seascape and views of offshore rock formations—sights that will only improve as you turn right (north) and head up the coast.

Investigating jungles of driftwood ©Erika Klimecky

Keep an eye out for wildlife, including sea lions and bald eagles as you follow the broad, sandy beach rimmed with wind-lashed trees.
In about 0.5 miles you will cross Ellen Creek. This wide stream is currently deep and fast-moving due to heavy rain, but there is a large, sturdy log that serves as an excellent bridge.

Just past this creek, camping is fair game for the remainder of your coastal traverse; there are just regulations in place to reduce crowding in the initial portion of the beach.

Soon after the creek, you will reach a stunning area laced with sea stacks and tidepools. The incredible views and wildlife sightings only improve as you pass through Hole-in-the-Wall (literally a large rock arch) in another 0.2 miles. Make sure to time this passage carefully, as high tide could make the crossing hazardous or impossible.

Hole in the Wall ©Jenni Denekas

Just beyond the arch is a broad lava flow, rife with marine life encrusting unusual rock formations. Allow plenty of time to explore this fascinating area before continuing onward along several headlands and beaches, or retracing your steps to your starting point.

Difficulty: Moderate (due to tides)
Elevation gain: 20 feet
Distance: 2.4 miles round-trip
Variety: Out and Back
Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Trail head amenities: Restrooms
Passes/Permits: Backcountry Permit required for overnight camping; available at nearby Forks Ranger Station
Open to: Hikers, Backpackers, Dogs
Maps: USGS: La Push, WA; Green Trails #130S: Ozette, WA; Trails Illustrated: Olympic National Park
Directions: From Seattle: Take the Bainbridge Island Ferry. (The ferry schedule is available at: http://www.wsdot.com/Ferries/Schedule/Default.aspx After an approximately 35-minute ride, you will reach Bainbridge Island. From the ferry terminal, take Harborview Drive SE towards the Waterfront Trail. Follow this road for 0.1 miles to the on-ramp for WA-305. Merge onto this highway, heading north. In 13.3 miles, you will turn right to merge onto WA-3 North toward the Olympic Peninsula. Follow this highway along the coast for about 7 miles, then turn left onto the Hood Canal Bridge (Highway 104 West). After about 15 miles you will merge onto Highway 101 North. Follow the highway through Port Angeles; it will curve southwest as you enter Olympic National Park. When you are approaching Forks, turn right onto WA-110/La Push Road. In 7.8 miles, just past a small deli, turn right onto WA-110/Mora Road. Follow this road about 5 miles through forest to the well-marked turn-off for Rialto Beach.

Summer at Rialto Beach ©Erika Klimecky
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