Embark on an adventure along the rugged Olympic coast as you hike south from Third Beach to Oil City. This trail is for the adventurous only: it involves harrowing ladder climbs, planning, and precise tide timing to pass around dangerous headlands. If possible, try to round all headlands on falling tides to ensure the safety of your backpacking group.

From the trailhead set off through the mossy forest to reach Third Beach, a popular day hike destination with views of the mystical sea stacks known as the Giant’s Graveyard. Turn south and continue down the beach until you reach a ladder, accompanied a marker, hanging down from the sandstone cliff. Carefully climb the ladder, using the provided ropes for security. A second ladder immediately follows, set back farther into the cliff. Follow the path as it climbs along the forested bluff and gradually descends to the shore again. At this shore you will have to cross a rocky headland with at least a 4.5 foot tide, so plan ahead. Continue along the beach to reach Strawberry Point, and follow the ladder markers up into the bluff. A cozy beach campsite, equipped with a net hammock and nearby water source, waits for you on the south side of the point. (Plan accordingly in the busy season.)

©Melissa Farage

Continue south from Strawberry Point along the beach to reach Toleak Point, which is adorned by a plethora of majestic sea stacks. Follow the trail inland into the forest, a route which requires a minor river ford. The trail winds outward and onto the beach again, towards Mosquito Creek. The creek can pose backpackers with a difficult ford, so try to cross at low tide if possible. Continue along the beach, frequently checking your topographical map to monitor minor headland crossings. Although there is no city at the end, you’ll find a large beach adorned with driftwood, bordered by the Hoh River. Follow the markers inland alongside the river to reach the Oil City trailhead.

©Melissa Farage

Season: May through October

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult.

Distance: 17 miles one way

Passes/Permits: Obtain permits at the WIC in Port Angeles or the Forks Recreation and Information Center. A ranger will provide you with bear canisters.

Facilities at Trailhead: Privy

Map: Green Trails La Push No. 1635

Directions: From Port Angeles follow US 101 West for 55 miles to its junctions with State Route 110. Continue westward on SR 110. When SR 110 splits in 7.7 miles at Quillayute Prairie take La Push Road, the left fork. Follow La Push Road 3.8 miles to the trailhead.

©Melissa Farage

 

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