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The Gearhouse Guide to The Best Beach Hikes in Washington

First Beach La Push

In terms of outdoor recreation, most people associate Washington and the broader Pacific Northwest with mountain and forest access. But Washington is also an amazing coastal or beach destination. With roughly 28,000 miles (about 45061.63 km) of coastline that includes the Pacific Coast, Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and other waterways, Washington has more coastline than you could explore in a lifetime. With summer officially here, our team at Gearhouse has put together a list of our favorite coastal adventures for our members. For The Gearhouse Guide to The Best Beach Hikes in Washington, continue reading below.

Best Beach Hikes in Washington #1 Third Beach Trail- La Push (3.6 miles Out & Back) - 280 Feet of Elevation Gain

Beach Hikes in Washington- Third Beach Trail

If you’ve spent any time on the Olympic Peninsula, chances are you have visited La Push. With First Beach on the Quileute Reservation and Second and Third Beach located within the Olympic National Park coastline, the La Push beaches are some of the most accessible and frequently visited on the entire peninsula. The trail to Third Beach is a relatively easy hike that takes trekkers through the coastal forest where towering pines give way to stunning coastal views, seaside waterfalls, and offshore rock spires. The trail sends hikers up and over several gentle slopes before descending to the sand, where the trail continues south to the end of the cove. Consult local tide charts before hiking or camping on the beach. The trailhead is located just off Highway 101. Permits are required for overnight camping.

Hole-in-the-Wall from Rialto Beach (3.3 miles Out & Back) - 108 Feet of Elevation Gain

Hole-in-the-Wall from Rialto

Just down the road from La Push across the Quileute River lies Rialto and the iconic hole-in-the-wall rock formation. The trail to the Hole in the Wall isn’t much of a trail, as the entire hike takes place directly on the beach. Rialto Beach is a combination of coarse sand and small rocks, so proper hiking shoes are recommended. The trail may be short and relatively flat, but hiking in loose sand and gravel can take its toll, especially under the hot summer sun. The hike takes you north, where the beach gives way to several dramatic rock formations containing tide pools with otherworldly sea life and, finally, the Hole in the Wall. After the Hole in the Wall, hikers can turn back (most do) to complete the 3.3 miles out and back, or they can venture on for another 5 miles. Further down the beach secluded coves are abundant, and the coast becomes increasingly wild with every step. The total hikeable distance is 13.4 miles out and back. When hiking on the beach, always consult tide charts. Rialto Beach hikes are best at low tide.

Ebey’s Landing- Whidbey Island (3.4 miles Loop) - 324 Feet of Elevation Gain

  Ebey’s Landing- Whidbey Island

Take the Mukilteo – Clinton ferry to Whidbey Island for views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains without the long haul to the coast Olympic Peninsula and Pacific Coast. Located just 60 miles north of the city, Whidbey Island offers visitors a tranquil retreat along the waters of Puget Sound. To hike Ebey’s Landing, begin at the trailhead near Fort Ebey. The trail traces coastal bluffs that give trekkers the opportunity to scour the shoreline for marine life and spot the occasional pod of orcas. The trail then descends the bluff and passes the island's original homestead, which dates back to 1850, before ending on a rocky beach. Take the beach back to complete the loop or hike back up the bluff to turn the hike into an out-and-back.

The Point of the Arches- Shi Shi Beach (8.6 miles Round Trip) - 200 Feet of Elevation Gain

  The Point of the Arches

Another iconic beach hike along the Olympic Peninsula can be found at Shi Shi Beach. Shi Shi Beach is a 2.3-mile-long sandy beach that’s the newest addition to the Olympic National Park Coastline. The beach is flanked to the south by a series of foreboding sea stacks known as the Point of the Arches. The trail begins at Shi Shi Beach Access which is a relatively flat 2-mile trail that runs into a 150-foot bluff. After descending the bluff to Shi Shi Beach, hikers trace the sand from the north end of the beach to the south for 2.3 miles total towards the Arches. Tide pools and rocky coves dot the landscape around the arches. Marine life encounters with seals and sea lions are common. After visiting the Point of the Arches, hikers can turn back to complete the out-and-back hike or continue to find camping along the trail towards Cape Alava (a total trekking distance of 26.9 miles out-and-back). Permits are required for camping.

If you’re ready to set out on your next hiking adventure, head to the Gearhouse for route planning, hiking, and camping gear, and more. 

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