©Orion Ahrensfeld
Why is it so interesting?
If you are looking for a nice and fairly easy hike in autumn and winter time, that takes you out to a mild weather spot, an overnight camping trip to Shi Shi Beach at the pacific coast of the Olympic Peninsula could be a considerable option for you. Shi Shi is one of the most scenic and most gorgeous beaches in Washington state bounded with beautiful sea stacks, tide pools and caves. Especially worth seeing are the magnificent sunsets behind the arches and the stunning views on Cape Flattery which is the most Northwestern coastal point of the United States.


Trail directions

The first mile of the hike is along a flat and meandering path planked with wooden bridgework (constructed by the Makah tribe) which takes you through an interesting arrangement of trees and bushes. The second part of the trail takes you to the boundary of the Olympic National Park on a muddy path which might be hard to walk on after a heavy rain or storm period. Once you have passed the boundary, you will face a steep part of the trail where switchbacks will take you down to the beach. This can be the point for day hikers to stop and turn around, the backpackers may continue the hike along a sandy beach for another 1.5 miles until you reach the Petroleum Creek, where you can find a frequented, but hidden camp spot in the coastal rain forest with enough room for at least 15 people. Camp fires are allowed in the entire area. If this spot is already occupied, many other camp sites can be found along the 2-mile-long beach.

Fresh water can be filtered at Petroleum Creek (which is brown since it is filtered through the leaves, but absolutely drinkable) and a bear canister is required by the local rangers (can be rented at the Ranger Station/information center in Port Angeles for $2). You should keep in mind to adapt your trip to the tide schedule and camp far off from where the high tide hits the beach.

Season: All year

Length: 3.5 miles to camp site at Petroleum Creek, each way

Difficulty: Easy

Variety: Amazing views along the beach interesting vegetation along the trail

Elevation Gain/loss: 200 feet

Highest point: 200 feet

Maps: USGS: Makah Bay, Ozette;  Green Trails: #98S Cape Flattery; Custom Correct: North Olympic Coast

Open to: Dogs, hikers, camp fires

Passes and permits required: Olympic National Park Permit ($5 per group + $2 per night per person or $30 annually per person including the group fee), Permit for the Makah Tribal lands ($10 per car)

Driving Directions

Take any ferry across the Puget Sound, then follow SR 104 and cross the Hood Canal Bridge and head north on the Olympic Highway 101 to Port Angeles. Then follow US 101 west to Sappho, turn right (north) on SR 113 to Clallam Bay and head west on SR 112 to Neah Bay, where you enter the territory of the Makah tribes. Follow the main road through Neah Bay and follow the signs to Hobuck Beaches. You will cross a bridge and follow the road for another four miles to get to the trail head.
You should not park your car in the parking lot at the trail head overnight due to vandalism, but park your car at “Donna’s parking” ($10 per night and per car; Information: 360-645-2554), which is located about a quarter of a mile away before the trail head on the road.

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