Shorter than the hike to Third Beach, the access to Second Beach is also a little more interesting, thanks to the ups and downs and a set of switchbacked stairs leading down to a coastline dotted with seastacks and a hole in the mainland that wind whistles through eerily.
The parking area for Second Beach is just outside of the town of La Push. While the main lot can only accommodate about 10 cars, the overflow lot, just east of the main lot, can hold many more. Note that while you turn left to get off the highway and into the lot, you must continue east to exit the lot through the overflow; traffic flows better this way.
From the parking area, head west and downhill to a hurricane fence and port-a-potty. This inauspicious beginning marks a convenience you may find yourself wanting after listening to surf crash for a while, and an access point (though not for the public) to the Lonesome Creek Hatchery, managed by the Quileute Fisheries Department.
Pass a moss-capped kiosk, complete with young trees sprouting from the roof and head on a short downhill jog across a creek before beginning a short climb. The trail clears the small rise, weaving among huge trees and skirting puddles and bogs, before beginning to descend gently. After 0.3 miles, the descent becomes more defined, and the trail becomes a well-worn crib staircase, filled with gravel and slumping in some places, but still functional.
Switchbacking down the steep backside of the hill, you’ll squeeze around a large upturned tree and pass another ‘cabinet tree’ just before hitting the beach. This interesting feature is a tree that visitors have put keepsakes from the beach or their travels in. While whimsical, it’s doesn’t abide by Leave No Trace practices, which say hikers should leave as little impact as possible from their visit. Please refrain from adding to it as you head to the beach.
On the beach, you're greeted with a dramatic scene – sea stacks rise straight out of the water, visible far to the south, and an arch to the north features a hole through which the wind whistles and moans on stormy days.
Meander up and down the beach, remembering that the tides are a factor here. North, it's a short jaunt to the natural arch and some rocky outcroppings. To the south, you'll stop short at Teahwhit Head, about a mile south of where the trail drops out on the beach. Here, turn around. Don’t go around headlands in case the tide comes in quickly. There's likely not a way to get back.
WTA Pro Tip: On your way back, look up before you plunge into the forest. A large Sitka spruce boasts a circular sign with alternating black and red quarters. These are signs for the overland routes, for backpackers or overnighters exploring the Washington coast on a permit.