If you like coastal hikes, Oregon offers some amazing coastline. This article by BeachConnection.net lists just some of the state’s coastal hiking areas. As the article states, “If you’ve never seen the ocean, or if you live in a state near Oregon, it’s high time for you to head out to the beach and immerse yourself in the state’s most glorious attributes”. What makes Oregon beaches truly specially is that they are all public.
In 2008, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I drove up Route 101 from California to Lincoln City, where we headed inward toward Portland. Along the way, we explored part of the Oregon Dunes National Rec Area. More specifically we hiked along the John Dellenback Dunes Trail for a few miles. It was great fun and the dunes there are amazing and massive. Someday soon I hope to go back and see more of Oregon’s pristine coastline.
If you like hiking along the coast, check out my recent review of Washington’s Cape Alava Trail, a top-rated outdoor destination in the state.
Hiking Cape Alava.
Some Washington hiking areas give you a chance to meander through magnificent old-growth forests and under massive evergreens draped with moss and lichens. Others offer you the opportunity to explore Washington’s coasts, letting you pick your way along gravelly shores littered with beach wood and see precarious sea stacks standing tall just off shore. Cape Alava’s 9.4-mile Ozette Triangle loop in Olympic National Park lets you experience the best of both worlds.
I visited Cape Alava for the first time a few weeks ago. I was use to hiking along Washington’s Pacific coastline, having hiked at Ruby and Shi Shi beaches and from the Hoh River outlet up to Rialto Beach. However, Cape Alava maintains a reputation as one of the best coastal hiking areas in Washington and the Pacific Northwest. To say the least, I was excited about this trip, and it did not disappoint.
The Ozette Triangle (also known as the Ozette Loop) begins at the northern end of Lake Ozette near the Ozette Ranger Station and Ozette Campground. Park at the trailhead just past the ranger station on the right side of the road. Hikers have the option of taking either the Cape Alava or Sand Point trails to the coast. The coastal section follows the last three miles of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. This section isn’t so much a trail as it as a hike along the shore. However, at high tide, hikers will need to take two overland trails, identified by black-and-red (often faded red to the point of being white) impassable headlands signs. Both the Cape Alava and Sand Point trails are well maintained, and either one will work for the hike out and hike back. I personally recommend the Cape Alava Trail because it will allow you to rest at and enjoy Sand Point, a scenic rocky outcrop, before heading inland at the end. When I hiked the Triangle with my family, we saw deer grazing on the Sand Point headland.
Taken from Cape Alava: Ozette Island (far left) and Tskawahyah Island (far right) in the background.
Douglas Scott of Thurston Talk recently posted this article on hiking in Capitol State Forest. He does a great job of summing up all that Capitol SF and the surrounding area has to offer – from Mima Falls and Capitol Peak to the McLane Creek Nature Trail and Margaret McKenny Trail.
If you think you might like to explore Capitol SF, check out some of my trail reviews of the forest:
Fall Creek to Margaret McKenny Camp by Way of Lost Valley
Little Larch Mountain
Also, if you’re interested in exploring just a little farther away from the Olympia area, I recently posted about my trip to the Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail near Shelton.
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Lake Cushman as seen from Mt. Rose.
This marked my first visit to the South Fork Skokomish River area. I had driven by this area several times during my trips to the North Fork Skokomish River Trail (starting at Staircase Ranger Station). However, I hadn’t given it much notice. For starters, there isn’t much identification along Route 101. I think I saw one sign on 101 before reaching the turn-off to West Skokomish Valley Road, which takes you into the Olympic National Forest and to the trailhead. I had no idea you could reach the National Forest from this road, let alone access some great hiking. So research the directions and bring a map – you will need it to reach the trailhead through the maze of National Forest roads. For the most part, you will take NF Road 23.
Overall this was a great hike through a gorgeous river valley and plenty of old growth forests. Beginning at the trailhead for the Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail – near the Brown Creak and Lebar Horse campgrounds – I hiked approximately 4.3 miles to the site of the former Camp Comfort. You can hike on this trail much farther though, all the way to the Upper South Fork Skokomish Trail and eventually into the Olympic National Park (near the Graves Creek area in the Quinault rainforest valley). But that’s quite a distance away. The half of the Lower South Fork Skokomish Trail that I hiked mostly stayed along the river and crossed over many small creeks. The warning about entering cougar country at the trailhead was a little unnerving, but for all I know these warnings exist at every trailhead on the Olympic Peninsula. If you’re looking to explore some old growth forests, though, and to hike easily through a mostly flat and beautiful river valley, I recommend this trail.
A view of the river from a spur off the trail.
Chris Hendrickson of The Monroe Monitor & Valley News recently posted about five hikes in Washington’s Sky Valley and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District. Sky Valley in Washington includes the South Fork Skykomish River watershed between the cities of Monroe and Skykomish. I haven’t been hiking in this area but the images in his article show a beautiful and serene wilderness area. The hikes Hendrickson writes about include Lake Serene, Barclay Lake, Deception Falls, Wallace Falls, and Heybrook Ridge.
If you like hiking to waterfalls and live in the South Puget Sound, check out this video review of Pack Forest and the Little Mashel River Falls in Eatonville, Wa.
When I was growing up, my family had lots of traditions involving outdoor activities. For instance, every year around Labor Day we would camp for a week at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod. I remember always having to touch the U.S. Geological Survey marker at the top of every mountain we climbed for it to officially count – at least according to my dad. Also, for as long as I can remember growing up (and even today), my dad never bought a Christmas tree. We always hiked a mile or more into the White Mountain National Forest to procure the “perfect” tree from what I think was a swamp outside of snow season. It was sort of like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – except without the station wagon. Anyways, another tradition I remember clearly was almost always taking a hike on Christmas and Easter days. On Christmas Day, we would commonly hike across the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as they are right next to my grandparent’s house. However, on Easter, we usually went hiking in New Hampshire. Last weekend on Easter, I continued that tradition with my son and wife. We visited Little Mashel River Falls at the Charles Lathrop Pack Forest in Eatonville, Wa. It was a nice family hike (albeit muddy) and a tradition I hope to keep. Check out my review below and see the short video I put together.
Middle Falls (Bridal Veil)