Pacific Northwest: Ozette Triangle Beach Hike (May 14)

We had rested the past two days specifically to be ready to take the early Tuesday morning ferry to Victoria. We got up super-early as planned, but made a last minute call to delay our trip until Thursday. So now what?

As long as we were up, we packed a big lunch and headed west, with a loose plan to stop at Clallam Bay via our 9th waterfall. Beaver Falls is located immediately off of Hwy 113, and after recent rains, the steep trail down was a bit more challenging. I went part way down, but Mike bushwhacked all around the muddy base of the falls looking for the good vantage points to shoot the falls. While he was shooting, I loaned my trekking poles to a mother/daughter pair who wanted to get closer to the falls.

Mike bushwhacking in to shoot Beaver Falls

Thick rainforest near Beaver Falls

Beaver Falls

Clallam Bay is said to have great sunsets, but I guess we'll have to go back because at 11AM in the rain we weren't inspired to hang around. With me still at the wheel, we decided to drive the 21 miles out to Ozette Lake just to see what it was like and maybe get a better feel for the 9 mile triangle hike on a future visit.

Swan Bay was our first stop and we encountered several Wilson's Warblers close by. Not much else going on there so we drove on in to Ozette.

Driving on Swan Bay Road; elevation 5 feet

Swan Bay

Wilson's Warbler

Expecting quiet remoteness, we were surprised to find more than one bus in the parking lot. Two or three middle school groups were preparing to backpack along the west coast trail. We were impressed with the great experience these kids were getting. One of the leaders chatted with us, suggesting this was a great day for a hike, "if you've got 9 miles in ya." Hm, well let's eat our lunch and think about this.

We didn't plan to do a big hike and it was already after 1PM. But as we mentally went through our supply list, there was nothing major we'd need that we didn't have with us. I picked up a tide table from the ranger station and we calculated we could make around the headlands and be out before dark it if we kept up our pace. Plus, we had our headlamps with us. Looking up at blue skies, we made the decision to go for it.

Susan, after checking notices and tide tables at the Ozette Ranger Station before the hike
We went to the right

Typical "trail" of boardwalk for the next 3 miles to Cape Alava

The groups had a good head start because we encountered no one on the 3.3 mile forest trail until it suddenly opened up to an unexpected grassy green hillside overlooking the ocean at Cape Alava. Another couple inappropriately dressed/equipped for hiking warned us of the difficulty getting down the muddy hillside. But it wasn't that bad and even if it had been, we were not about to turn around now!

Coming out of the forest at the beach of Cape Alava

The difficult part lie ahead as we gained an insight about what a wild beach really is. Gigantic timbers criss-crossed the width of the beach, and as the tide was rising we had to go over, under or through them. I had serious doubts about my ability to complete the hike at this point, but forged on after Mike's lead. When we got to the rocky headlands after about a mile, the water was too high and we had to go up rather than around. For the first time I took advantage of the rope placed for hikers to pull myself up the slippery slope.

Timber-strewn beaches made for a tough hike

The next headlands was not bad even as the tide rolled in, and we were able to relax a bit and pat ourselves on the back after the halfway point of the hike.

Susan on the rocky beach

Mike on the rocky beach
View from one of the headlands we climbed

The rest of the beach hike was easier, and we even extended a little past the trail back into the forest to climb up onto a narrow grassy headland at Sandy Point from which we could see Ozette Beach to the north and another beach to the south.

View from Sandy Point

Banana Slug

A lone Indian Paintbrush at Sandy Point

As we turned back to the forest trail, we shared some chocolate and homemade oatmeal cookies with a park ranger who was "babysitting" the school kids camping a little ways away. As we hiked the final 3 miles through the forest, Mike realized that we were in such a hurry to get over those headlands at Wedding Rocks, we completely forgot to look at the Ozette Petroglyphs. Oh well, we'll have to see if we still have 9 miles in us next time....

Heading back into the woods for the last 3 miles of boardwalk

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