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Ozette Triangle: Cape Alava - Sand Point Loop

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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. You won't be alone on this section of wilderness beach, however, for Ozette's admirers are legion. But there's plenty of room, and if you venture this way on a winter weekday you might just find yourself alone with the harlequin ducks.

From Lake Ozette, one of the largest natural bodies of freshwater in the state, the loop begins its 3.3-mile journey to the sea. Cross the lazy and brackish Ozette River on an arched bridge, coming to a junction in 0.25 mile. Take the trail right (the left trail is your return route), proceeding through a thick forest of western cedar and Sitka spruce. Most of the way is via a cedar-planked boardwalk, convenient for traversing the saturated terrain but slippery during periods of rain. The Park Service has begun replacing many of the rotting cedar planks with nonslippery plastic ones.

Continue through lush maritime forests drenched in sea mist. Towering ferns line the elevated path, and in early spring the boardwalk is lined with thousands of nature's lanterns: blossoming skunk cabbage. At 2.25 miles pass through Ahlstroms Prairie, an early homestead site long-since reclaimed by the dense greenery that thrives in this waterlogged climate.

Raucous gulls and the sound of crashing surf announce that the ocean is nearing, and at 3.3 miles a slight descent delivers you to the wild beaches of Cape Alava. Now for real fun! Turn south and follow the shoreline for 3.1 adventurous miles. Look out to offshore islands. Search the ocean waters for seals, whales, and scores of pelagic birds. Look in tidal pools for semisubmerged starfish tenaciously clinging to barnacle-encrusted walls. Look for oystercatchers cruising down the aisles of this open fish market. Look up in the towering trees hugging the shoreline for perched eagles.

Search for Makah petroglyphs etched into the Wedding Rocks, a cluster of shore-hugging boulders about halfway along the coast. Respect these historic and sacred artifacts, which predate European settlement in the Northwest. If the tide is low, continue along the surf. If it is high, use the steep but short trails (signed) that bound over rough headlands. Continue on wide beach and approach another spot that may require a detour if the surf is high.

At 3 miles from Cape Alava and after 6.3 miles of hiking, you'll arrive at Sand Point. Over 2 glorious miles of some of the finest sandy beaches in all of Washington extend south from this point.

When you must relinquish this heavenly environment back to its rightful owners-the seals, oystercatchers, otters, and sanderlings-return to Lake Ozette via another 3-mile-long boardwalk trail through expansive cedar bogs and under a dense canopy of majestic Sitka spruce. The sound of the surf slowly fades in the distance, but the Ozette Triangle will chime in your memories for quite some time.
Driving Directions:

From Port Angeles follow US 101 west for 5 miles to the junction with State Route 112. Turn right (west) on SR 112, continuing for 46 miles to the community of Sekiu. (Alternatively, take US 101 to Sappho and drive SR 113 north to SR 112 and then on to Sekiu. This way is longer, but not as curvy.) Drive 2.5 miles beyond Sekiu and turn left onto the Hoko-Ozette Road. Follow this paved road for 21 miles to the Ozette Ranger Station and trailhead. Water and restrooms available.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 119 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Ozette Triangle: Cape Alava - Sand Point Loop — Apr 02, 2014 — abbenormal
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Timing is everything when doing this hike! Three days of dry weather gave us dry boardwalk so no tra...
Timing is everything when doing this hike! Three days of dry weather gave us dry boardwalk so no traction devices were required. The trail to Cape Alva is in excellent condition as the Forest Service has done repairs/replaced much of the boardwalk and put down new gravel on the raised trail. The skunk cabbages are blooming in full force, gorgeous!

We arrived at Cape Alva at low tide giving us ample time to hike the beach the entire way to Sand Point. Massive tangles of trees on the beach provided great puzzles to scramble over and crawl under as we made our way south. We spent a long time at the Wedding Rocks finding as many of the petroglyphs as we could. The beach was littered with lots of fishing floats and the eagles were out in great numbers.
We arrived at Sand Point and enjoyed lunch with a great view as we watched the tide roll in.

The trail from Sand Point to Ozette ranger station is not in great shape with many missing boards, all removed by the Forest Service who are currently working on the boardwalk at this moment. We passed multiple piles of cedar and gravel that had been dropped in for the repair work. About 2 miles in we came upon a Forest Service crew hard at work on the trail. We were told that the plan is to replace as much of the boardwalk with raised gravel as possible, which will be easier to maintain and provide better footing when wet.
This is a fantastic hike, just make sure you check the tides carefully before you go, and if you are lucky enough to having a sunny day, all the better!
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Ozette Triangle: Cape Alava - Sand Point Loop — Feb 03, 2014 — Makulu
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Mudholes | Washouts | Water on trail | No water source
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This is a great place, it is gorgeous. However I would not recommend this as a place for children. ...
This is a great place, it is gorgeous. However I would not recommend this as a place for children. I would also suggest the description be updated. If you choose to only do either the Alava or sand point trail and not the loop it can be a fun family hike. Doing the loop however is not for beginners or children. Along the coast there is no marked trail, none. Crossing the headlands requires rope climbing up pretty good size heights, and if not careful you can easily fall on rocks (whether ascending or descending). There are good ropes at the headlands to use. The boardwalk type trail is in the process of being replaced with gravel, this is a very good thing as the boardwalk portions are rotting, broken and very slippery (highly suggest traction devices). The sand point trail is sketchy and really should not be used until the boards are addressed. Also bear in mind, you are about 1.5 hours from the nearest help, the ranger station at Ozette is not staffed, and there is no road to the coast, just the trails. I hope this does not come across as a negative review, this place is amazing and should be experienced, these are just some things people need to be aware of.
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Ozette Triangle: Cape Alava - Sand Point Loop — Jul 06, 2013 — AmieJo
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Camped at south ozette river camp. It was beautiful. Perfect weather. Clean and well maintained trai...
Camped at south ozette river camp. It was beautiful. Perfect weather. Clean and well maintained trail. East access. Lots of stairs. Last 1/2 mile includes either climbing a few large boulders or climbing over a steep hill with provided rope. I suggest taking the rocks. Many sea creatures seen just on this section of rocks. This is a wonderful place and will go back.
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Ozette Triangle: Cape Alava - Sand Point Loop — Jun 22, 2013 — KatyCat
Overnight
Issues: Blowdowns
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Three lovely ladies and I hiked the Ozette Loop last weekend and it was great. We started our little...
Three lovely ladies and I hiked the Ozette Loop last weekend and it was great. We started our little trek at Ozette Lake, which is set back 3 miles from the Pacific coast, near the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

On a fine Saturday afternoon, we traipsed through lady ferns, sword ferns, salal, and skunk cabbage of the temperate rainforest. Well, I don't think I actually touched a single fern because there were convenient boardwalks the whole way.

The woods gave way to prairies full of ferns as far as the eye can see. The prairies were the remnant of some Scandinavian families' failed attempt to build homesteads in this remote neck of the woods.

As we approached the beach, we were welcomed by the high-pitched squeak of some nesting eagles in the trees above. Eagles were practically as common as crows out here!

Cape Alava is where we and about 30 boyscouts set up camp. We found a nice campsite where we practically didn't notice anyone else. When the tide came in, it stopped about 10 feet from my tent. Now that's beach camping!

We set off in the afternoon for Tskawahyah Island (also called Cannonball Island), the one that's accessible from a sandbar just north of the Cape. We didn't realize it at the time, but this island was probably a spiritual retreat for the Ozette, since several ritual artifacts were found there. There also are remains of a WWII Coast Guard station there.

The next morning, we walked south along the beach towards Wedding Rocks, where there are over 40 petroglyphs carved by those multi-talented Ozette folks 300 years ago. We saw 3 or 4 of them; they're pretty hard to spot. The ones we saw were all south of the large boulder at Wedding Rocks; I missed all the ones north of there, even with my handy treasure map with each one marked and drawn with great detail, courtesy of the ranger dude back in Port Angeles.

Around Sand Point, the southern tip of the hike, we saw lots of eagles, herons, cormorants, and some sea lions hanging out in the sea stacks off the coast. The Flattery Rocks Wildlife Refuge is like a haven for wildlife - I wish I had brought my binoculars. We also saw a beached whale.

From Sand Point, it was another 3 miles back to the trailhead, making this an easy 9.5 mile loop spread over 2 days. The inland trails were well-maintained with boardwalks throughout, and the beach portion was just a little annoying because of all the downed trees. If I had to do this trip again, I would add on Shi Shi Beach before or after this loop. There's also plenty to explore around Lake Ozette itself.
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Ozette Triangle: Cape Alava - Sand Point Loop — Jun 18, 2013 — econkling
Multi-night backpack
Issues: Mudholes
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We spent four days out there, including time right after (and during) a major rain storm. The non-b...
We spent four days out there, including time right after (and during) a major rain storm. The non-boardwalk portions of the trail to/from Cape Alava were very muddy, especially the steep portion right before the beach.

We encountered a black bear on the beach just north of Cape Alava, near the Makah-Ozette Ranger Station.
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Sand Point elwert.jpg
Sand Point at Dusk, By Daniel Ewert.
Location
Cape Alava-Sand Point Loop (##31)
Olympics -- Coast
Olympic National Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain 300 ft
Highest Point 350 ft
Features
Coast
Wildlife
Established campsites
User info
Dogs not allowed
National Park/Refuge entry fee required
Guidebooks & Maps
Overnight camping permits required
Green Trails Ozette No. 130S
Custom Correct Ozette Beach Loop

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