Location: Olympic National Park
Land Agency: Quileute Nation and National Park Service
Roundtrip: 4.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 310 feet
Contact: Olympic National Park, Wilderness Information Center
Green Trails Map: 99S Olympic Coast Beaches
Notes: Dogs prohibited
Access: From Forks follow US 101 north for 1.5 miles turning left onto State Route 110 (signed “Mora–La Push”). Continue west for 7.7 miles to Quillayute Prairie, where SR 110 splits. Bear left (La Push Road), and drive 5.2 miles to the trailhead located just past the Quileute tribal office.
Good to Know: kid-friendly, exceptional tide pools, exceptional bird watching, snow free winter hiking
Just south of the Quileute village of La Push are three Olympic Coast charms: First, Second, and Third Beaches. Each one is hemmed in by dramatic bluffs and headlands. You can’t hike from one to the next because those headlands block the way. First Beach is in the village. Third Beach requires a 1.2-mile slog down a forested trail. Second Beach is just right: reached by a hike just long enough to add a sense of wildness to its stunning beauty. It’s perfect for children, seasoned hiker, newbie hikers, and teenage hikers looking for vampires.
The well-constructed trail starts on the Quileute Indian Reservation. It immediately crosses a small creek lined with imposing Sitka spruces before beginning a short climb. At the height of the land enter Olympic National Park, and then begin a short, steep descent to the beach. Soon, start catching glimpses of offshore sea stacks through the surrounding towering spruces. At 0.7 mile reach the log-lined beach.
Now, plan on doing some exploring. Hike a short distance along the beach northward to a natural arch. Then retrace your steps and head south. Over one mile of scenic sandy beach awaits your footprints. Offshore lies a consortium of battered islets and sea stacks known as the Quillayute Needles. Crying Lady Rock is the largest of the batch. These forbidding landmarks are part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge. Inhospitable to humans, they’re productive breeding grounds to thousands of seabirds, oystercatchers, murres, gulls, petrels, cormorants, and auklets among them.
Continue wandering, eventually coming to an impasse, Teahwhit Head. But before you turn around and retrace your steps, scan this rugged bluff. Teahwhit Head is also graced with a natural arch. With two arches, a stunning seascape, scores of pelagic birds, and an inviting sandy shoreline, Second Beach just may be second to none.
For detailed information on this hike and on 135 other great hikes throughout Olympic National Park, the Olympic Peninsula, and Long Beach Peninsula, pick up a copy of my best selling and fully revised Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 2nd Edition (Mountaineers Books).
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Be sure to pick up a copy of the NEW Green Trails Maps 99S to help you explore the wild Olympic Coast. Map is waterproof and tear proof and covers the entire Olympic Coast.