Olympic Coast North: The Shipwreck Coast


Backpack - Olympic Coast North: The Shipwreck Coast

Experience the beauty, history and unique features of Washington's Shipwreck Coast, backpacking on Friday from Rialto Beach through the Hole in the Wall to historic Chilean Memorial Cove, where we camp two nights on the beach. On Saturday morning we will day hike for three hours north along the coast, have a trail lunch and then return by the same route, scheduled so we will be between mid-tide and low tide for the entire day hike. Late Sunday morning we will backpack back to Rialto Beach to take advantage of the low tide.

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  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 7.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 50 ft
  • Pace: 2.0 mph

Meet at 9 AM Friday on the front porch of the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC), 3002 Mt. Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA  98362, reached by turning left from US 101 in Port Angeles onto N Race St., and continuing up the hill to the south end of town, where the WIC will be on your right. 

At the WIC, the leader will pay the $8 per person per night camp fees for the group and pick up the permit and any bear requested bear canisters.  Olympic National Park requires that all food and other odor-emitting substances be secured overnight in an approved bear canister.  If you do not bring your own canister, you will need to borrow one from the WIC at no cost.  That will require you to repack your gear, because the canister must be carried inside your pack.  Before leaving the WIC, the camp fees will be collected in cash from each participant, so be sure you have the correct cash with you.

We will caravan from the WIC to the Port Angeles City Hall, 321 E Fifth St., Port Angeles, WA 98362 to drop off cars there for those needing to consolidate cars at that time.  Available parking space is usually limited at the trailhead.   The drive from Port Angeles to the trailhead will take an hour and a half.

The backpack in to Chilean Memorial Cove will take about three hours.  The first mile is on  a sandy beach and will take us through the Hole-in-the-Wall, which we need to reach by mid-tide (about 2:30 PM) to avoid getting our feet wet.  The next two miles involve mostly travel on flat rocks and gravel, with some minor boulder hopping and a short rope assisted climb up and down a cliff near our campsite destination.  On this part of the hike, we will round two other headlands.   The earlier we arrive there, the easier the route will be.

At Chilean Memorial Cove we will camp two nights on a sheltered sandy beach, where we will have smores around the campfire after dinner each evening.  There are one or two streams near there where we can filter or treat drinking water.   Filtering  or treating must eliminate both giardia and cryptosporidium.  The one outhouse at Chilean Memorial Cove has collapsed and is not usable, but trails into the dense vegetation near our campsite provide multiple locations for bathroom breaks in the woods.

The main attraction of this trip is the Saturday day hike north along the coast.  The favorable tide schedule will allow us to hike for three hours each direction and have a half hour for a lunch break at the turnaround point, while staying between mid-tide and low tide the entire time.   Most of  this day hike will be on nice sandy beaches, but we will be hiking around two headlands that will involve some boulder hopping and a possible rope climb over a third headland, if we go beyond that.   If you are not prepared for boulder hopping and rope climbing, it would be best for you to not register for this trip.  The rating of MODERATE is because of the boulder hopping and rope climbs, although there is little elevation gain.  The stated distance and gain for this trip is based on the backpack to Chilean Memorial Cove and back.    The Saturday day hike will add more distance that will be based on how far we can go in three hours each way, but not add much elevation gain.  If you are not sure if this trip is suitable for you, please discuss it with the leader.  During the day hike, there will be multiple opportunities for bathroom breaks behind logs and boulders.

We will backpack out late morning on Monday to take advantage of the tide schedule.  So we will probably need to pack a trail lunch for Monday.   But we will have the option of a meal stop on the drive home, at either the Hungry Bear Cafe on US 101 or the Asian Buffet Restaurant in Port Angeles, depending on when we want to eat.

There are restrooms at the WIC, the Port Angeles City hall and the trailhead.  No parking pass is required at the Port Angeles City Hall or the trailhead.



Olympic Coast North: The Shipwreck Coast

  • Custom Correct North Olympic Coast

    Green Trails Ozette No. 130S

    Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
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