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Beaches & Tides

Atlanta, Georgia
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90 posts
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Beaches & Tides

We'll be visiting ONP this Friday, spending the better part of 7 days. We'll be in Port Angeles the first night, Forks the next 4 nights, Lake Quinault for 2, then back to Seattle our last night for an early flight home next day.

First off, I know what most of you folks who live in the area think of Forks, but this is not a high priority consideration for us. We're staying there for the location in the park, and we have a kitchen with refrigerator & stove. 3 Rivers Resort sounds like a great place for dinner one or two nights, and we'll deal with the rest of our meals from our room. What the town looks like doesn't really matter to us.

Day 1: (7/19) Arrive Seattle, spend some time at Pike Place, head to Edmonds for the ferry & drive to PA, explore the town a bit & have dinner.

Day 2: (7/20) Drive to Hurricane Ridge & hike either Hurricane Hill or Klahane Ridge, whichever we feel up for that day. Then on to Forks. I'm leaning towards Hurricane Hill, because next day…

Day 3: (7/21) we'd like to see Sol Duc hot springs, falls, then hike to Deer Lake. This, I imagine, will be an all day outing, plus it keeps us away from the beaches on the weekend.

Days 4&5: (7/22 & 23) Here's where I'm having a dilemma. We'd like to do the Ozette-Cape Alava-Sand Point loop, but the tides are really not cooperating. Low tides on Day 4 are 7:26a & 7:08p, Day 5 at 8:10a & 8:04p. Now, I'm a photographer, and would think nothing of getting up at 3:30 one morning to catch the beach at low tide, but Mrs. Moviesign will be with me on this trip, and while she tolerates a lot of my quirks, 3am is not one of them. I see a couple of alternatives: doing the hike at the evening low tide, but that turns what should be a leisurely day, stopping for lunch, photographs & exploration into concerns about losing the light & completing the loop (even though it puts us there at sunset), or swapping this with Day 3, a Sunday, maybe more people on the beach, but low tide is 6:09pm. Or, do we drop it altogether, spend Day 4 on the Hoh River Trail and Day 5 exploring Rialto & Second beaches?

Monday is also a full moon, and I'd like to do some night photography under moonlight. I'm wondering if the headlands between First & Second Beach are accessible, giving a view of the beaches & seastacks from an elevated viewpoint.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

2 replies to this topic
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
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1. Re: Beaches & Tides

Mother Nature rules. Don't play around with the tides at Cape Alava. It takes 1 hour and 20 minutes hiking through second growth forest just to reach the beach, and you have to hike back about 1 hour through second growth forest. You cannot do that at night, so getting up at 3:30 am or hiking back after an evening low tide is unwise. If you really want to take this hike, camp out. There are camp sites on the beach, but bring water. There are never many people around on these beaches. They are just too remote, and they cover too much ground.

Second Beach and Rialto Beach are actually more beautiful than the various beaches along the Cape Alava/Sand Pt. route. They lack the end-of-the-world quality of Cape Alava, but their sea stacks and rock formations are more striking. You won't be disappointed.

The Deer Lake hike takes 4 hours round trip. If you possibly can summon the energy, continue ascending another 550 ft. above Deer Lake to the Potholes. Eat your lunch there. It's one of the most spectacular sites in the park, and the snow should be long gone, given the fast pace of the melt this summer. Watch out for bears on this trail. If you include the Potholes, the whole hike takes about 6 hours.

Don't waste your time looking at the hot springs before the hike. They are swimming pools set in a concrete apron, not wild hot springs. You must pay to use them. They are nothing to see, but you might want a soak after your long hike.

If you are doing night photography, do it at Rialto Beach, not Second Beach. You drive directly to Rialto Beach. You must walk down to Second Beach for 20 minutes in a dark, muddy, rooty second growth forest. It is not safe to walk this in the dark, even during a full moon. No one wants a sprained ankle as a souvenir of Olympic National Park.

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Beaches & Tides

Thanks, Kaleberg, I actually meant to post this in the ONP forum.

I was trying very hard to come up with a way to do the Ozette loop, but I think you're right, and now I'm inclined to skip it. We'll have to pay more attention to the tides when planning our next trip out there.

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