Hole-in-the-Wall is a popular destination for day hikes on the Pacific Northwest Trail. Photo by Alex Maier.
A maritime climate and low elevation offer an extended season along the Wilderness Coast, one of the most popular sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Towering sea stacks, coastal forests, and countless tide pools—brimming with marine life—are iconic of this rugged coastline, which is visited by many, but traversed by only a hardy few.
Along this route, rugged beaches and rocky headlands create a unique coastal adventure. Some headlands become impassable, except at low tide in fair weather, while others may only be crossed using steep overland trails and rope ladders.
In this section, westbound thru-hikers get their first chance to dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean, camp on sandy beaches, and watch the sun set behind sea stacks and islands, which are teeming with seals, sea otters and other marine life.
Cape Alava is a popular destination for backpackers of all ages and abilities. Here, along the shores of the Pacific, hundreds of barking sea lions and laughing gulls celebrate each passing day with the jubilant soundtrack of animal life.
As the westernmost point in the continental United States, Cape Alava makes an ideal location for the western terminus of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Whether a crown-to-coast adventure is inspired by this setting—or comes to a triumphant end here—all visitors can take in the grandeur of the Northwest from the Park’s beachside campsites.
A combination of sandy and rocky beaches lie along the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Olympic National Park. Photo by Tyler Yates.
Sea stacks along the Wilderness Coast are iconic of the Northwest and are home to nesting birds and a diversity of marine life. Photo by Tyler Yates.
Bear canisters are required for overnight camping on the PNT along the Wilderness Coast to protect wildlife like raccoons. Photo by Alex Maier.
The rugged Olympic Coast is part of the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” home to hundreds of shipwrecks and sea-sculpted rocky shores. Photo by Ashley Hill.
Tide pools along the Wilderness Coast are home to urchins, sponges, crabs and other marine animals. NPS photo by B Baccus.
Black tailed deer and other animals, including black bears, travel along the beaches in Olympic National Park. Photo by Ashley Hill.
Tsunami debris can be found all along the shores of the Pacific. Beach clean-ups help protect ocean life and keep the Pacific Coast wild. Photo by Jeff Kish.
The giant green anemone is common among the tide pools in the intertidal zones along the Wilderness Coast. Photo by Suzanne Bess-Wollborg.