Ozette Triangle–Classic Olympic Coast Hike packed with surprises

The Wedding Rocks add mystique to the Ozette Triangle.

The Wedding Rocks add mystique to the Ozette Triangle.

Quick Facts:

Location: Olympic Coast

Land Agency: Olympic National Park

Roundtrip: 9.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Notes: National Park entry fee; dogs prohibited; coastal section can be difficult during high tides.

Green Trails Map: Olympic Coast 99S

Contact: Olympic National Park

Access: From Port Angeles, follow US 101 west for 5 miles to SR 112. Continue on SR 112 for 46 miles to Seiku. Travel west on SR 112 for 2.5 miles beyond Seiku and turn left onto the Hoko-Ozette Road. Follow this paved road for 21 miles to trailhead at Ozette Ranger Station.

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, snow-free winter hike, backpacking opportunities (permit required), exceptional wildlife viewing, historic, Practice Leave No Trace Principles, One of  the 100 Classic Hikes of Washington

Sea stacks, sea otters, sea lions, and ocean scenery for as far as you can see, the 9.4 mile Ozette Triangle is one of the finest hikes on the Olympic Coast. An easily accessible loop hike, it’s the perfect introduction to America’s wildest coastline south of Alaska.

From Lake Ozette, one of the largest natural bodies of water in Washington, the loop begins its 3.3 mile journey to the sea. Cross the lazy and brackish Ozette River on an arched bridge soon coming to a junction. Veer right and via good trail and cedar-planked boardwalks, traverse lush maritime forests drenched in sea mist. Towering ferns line the elevated path. Pass through Ahlstrom’s Prairie, an early homestead site, since reclaimed by the dense greenery that thrives in this water-logged climate.

Raucous gulls and the sound of crashing surf announce that the ocean is near. Now gently descend to the wild beaches of Cape Alava. Turn south and follow the shoreline for 3.1 adventurous miles. Look out to off-shore islands. Gaze the ocean waters for seals, whales, and scores of pelagic birds. Look in tidal pools for semi-submerged starfish tenaciously clinging to barnacle-encrusted walls. Look for oystercatchers cruising down the aisles of this open fish market. Look up in the towering trees hugging the shoreline for perched eagles.

Search for Makah petroglyphs etched into the Wedding Rocks, a cluster of shore hugging boulders about half way down the coast. Respect these historic and sacred artifacts; they predate European settlement in the Northwest. If the tide is low continue along the surf. If it is high use the steep but short trails (signed) that bound over the rough headlands. A little more than 3.0 miles from Cape Alava, you’ll arrive at Sand Point. Over two glorious miles of some of the finest sandy beaches in all of Washington extend from this point. Explore at will or return to Lake Ozette via another 3.0 mile long boardwalk trail. It’s all through expansive cedar bogs and under a dense canopy of majestic Sitka spruce. As the sound of the crashing surf slowly fades in the distance, the Ozette Triangle will long continue to chime in your mind.

The Ozette Triangle is one of 136 featured hikes in my Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 2nd Edition guidebook. Find more details on this hike and detailed and accurate descriptions to many others in this best-selling, most-trusted and comprehensive guide to hiking the Olympic Peninsula. Get your copy today!

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