Ozette Loop, Washington in winter

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

Also called “Cape Alava – Sand Point Loop“, the trailhead is Ozette Lake.

Ozette Lake offers several trails leading to the Pacific Coast Marine Sanctuary. I chose this adventure as it’s open year round. And because I was hiking alone, preferring a loop trail over an out-and-back.

Washington Trails Association:

With sea stacks, sea otters, sea lions, and ocean scenery for as far as you can see, the 9.4-mile Ozette Triangle is one of the finest hikes on the Olympic Coast. Easily accessible and a loop hike, the Triangle (named for the loop’s shape) is a perfect introduction to America’s wildest coastline south of Alaska. …

There are literally MILES of boardwalk.

A ranger warned me of the dangers of slipping … but (as a Canadian) even those slicked over with frost were fun for me. I ‘skated’ some of the downhill sections.

On arrival at Cape Alva, I decided to detour Tskawahan “island”. It’s actually connected to mainland at most tides.

I left a Summit Stone atop that feature, one of the westerly most points of land on the lower 48 States.

Beach walking is gorgeous. Nobody could believe this was early February — it looks like July!

There’s some fascinating flotsam or jetsam around every corner. This hot tub, for example.

I assume deer come out on to the beach for salt.

Cool Trails trip report:

… A doe and fawn passed our camp a few times. We also saw golden eagles, bald eagles, crabs, raccoons, and a fur seal pup on the beach.

Speaking of raccoons, they are as much a problem for campers as bears in the high country. (But at least you don’t have to worry about raccoons dragging your friends into the woods and mauling them.) Come prepared to hang your food and anything else scented in a tough container, like a bucket, day and night. Take your backpack into the tent with you at night, to keep the varmints from ripping it open with their razor-sharp little claws. During the day, leave your tent open and empty. I once lost an empty dome tent to raccoons who wanted to see what was inside. Don’t underestimate their tenacity or intelligence. …

At this point I was certain I’d not get back to the trailhead before dark. The sun was sinking fast.

Perhaps I should have camped here. There’s plenty of space and plenty of (tannin stained) water. 🙂

But I’d left the tent in my vehicle, so could only enjoy this vista before plunging back into the trees …

Sand Point

more photos from this day hike

I used Hiking Olympic National Park by Molvar, but no guidebook is needed.

I’m inspired next time to hike Cape Alava all the way to Rialto Beach, a slow, but gorgeous, 20.2mi. That’s called “Olympic Coast North: The Shipwreck Coast“.

I might even add on “Olympic Coast South: The Wildcatter Coast”, another 17.5mi.

That’s the closet American equivalent to the West Coast Trail not far away on Vancouver Island, Canada.

5 Replies to “Ozette Loop, Washington in winter”

  1. How crowded was the loop for you on a weekday in February? I’m considering going in a couple weeks. Lots of day trippers?

  2. What a great report and makes it rise higher on my bucket list. I’ve done both land-to-sand legs, but never the complete triangle! FYI: If you do camp along the way, hard-sided containers like bear canisters are required on the entire Wilderness Coast.
    Bear canisters are available for loan from the WIC and some park ranger stations. A suggested $3 per canister donation helps to perpetuate the program and provide education materials. We used them overnight at the Second Beach and there were lots of critter prints around it in the morning, but we didn’t lose one bagel!

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