Above:  Black tailed deer and other animals travel along the beaches in Olympic NP. Photo by Ashley Hill.

Wilderness Coast, Section 10

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.

The PNT in a Coastal Forest in Olympic NP
Coastal forests meet rocky headlands and rugged beaches along the Pacific Coast in Section 10. Photo by Ashley Hill.
Coastal forests meet rocky headlands and rugged beaches along the Pacific Coast in Section 10. Photo by Ashley Hill.

Forks, WA to Cape Alava
61 mi (98 km)
Highest Point: 1,000’ Primary
Est. Elevation Gain/ Loss:  +1,350’ / -940’

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Notable wildlife: black bears, sea otters, harbor seals, tide pools
  • Cape Alava
  • Rialto Beach
  • Hole-in-the-Wall
  • Quilayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge
  • Quileute Indian Reservation

PUBLIC LANDS

Olympic State Forest
Willy-Huel State Forest
Olympic National Park

 

SPECIAL HAZARDS

  • Headland crossings
  • Steep trails
  • Ocean tides
  • Coastal travel
  • Black bear habitat
Menu