The Best Beach Hiking in the USA

beach hiking view at Cape Alava

In September, we completed a coastal hike of the Cape Alava Trail along the coastal portion of Olympic National Park, which includes some of the best beach hiking in the USA. The easy 9-mile route involved high tides, tide pools, trekking, and torrential downpours. My partner Bill and I took two days on the route, making camp on the coast under the starry sky and falling asleep to the sound of the waves of the Pacific crashing just feet from our shelter. There were plenty of trees for hammock camping. However, bugs were abundant. Therefore, opt for a quality mosquito net hammock. It also rained during our trip as it does nearly every day in the PNW, so be sure to pack a rainfly.

Artistic Rendering of Cape Alava at Low Tide

Our packs included a pair of water shoes, a laminated tide chart, a headlamp for night crabbing, a guide to seaweed of the PNW… You get the idea! It is a short hike, so you can take a few extra pounds for fun.

DAY 1 – Cape Alava Hike

We parked the car at the trailhead around 14:00 and started down the boardwalk trail toward the ocean on the Cape Alava Trail. We could hear her roar as we emerged from the coastal forest and descended the slope to the rocky shoreline. Low tide was upon us and we wasted no time finding a spot to make camp and donning our water shoes to get out amongst the starfish and sea anemones.

There were a dozen or so secluded camping spots along the beach/tree line. Several had options for hanging a camping hammock with mosquito net.

DAY 2 – Beach Hiking

The next morning we awoke to the pitter-patter of rain hitting our makeshift roof. Try though it might, the icy rain could not dampen our day.

We pressed onward down the coast toward the ancient petroglyphs known as wedding rocks, getting more soaked with every step. Bill, an oceanographer by training, could hardly contain his excitement as we explored the creatures in the pools exposed by the low tide. Even in the rain, the beach hiking was incredible.

beach hiking view at Cape Alava
The Beach Hiking Views at Cape Alava are among the best in the USA

We snapped photos and examined dozens of pieces of driftwood before slipping back onto the forest trail. After that, it was an easy 3-mile trek back to the ranger station.

Sometimes the bad weather is what ruins a story. However, in Olympic National Park it is what makes the story an adventure.