Shi Shi Beach


Backpack - Shi Shi Beach

Explore the most beautiful and fascinating beach on the Olympic Coast during the lowest tides of the year, permitting walking though multiple rock tunnels and caves at Point of the Arches, and viewing marine life that is rarely seen.

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  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 6.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 200 ft
  • Pace: 2.0 mph

Meet at 9 AM Friday July 3 on the front porch of the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC), 3002 Mt. Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA . 98362.  It is reached from US 101 in Port Angeles by turning left at N Race St and continuing up the hill until reaching the WIC at the south end of town 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 canisters requested by participants.  Olympic National Park requires that all food and other odor-emitting substances be secured at night in an approved bear canister.  Anyone not bringing their own canister must borrow one from the WIC, at no cost.  In that case their gear must be repacked, because the canisters must be carried inside your pack.

After leaving the WIC, we will have the option to consolidate cars at the Port Angeles City Hall, 321 E Fifth St., Port Angeles, WA  98362,  Sometimes the parking area available to Shi Shi Beach backpackers fills up on low tide weekends and parking fees for the three days of the trip were $30 per car in one lot and $20 per car in the other lot last year.   In addition, each car must display a Makah Tribe recreation pass, which cost $10 per calendar year last year.  So there are multiple reasons to arrive at the trailhead parking area in as few cars as possible.

The drive from Port Angeles to Washburn's General Store in Neah Bay, our next rendezvous point, where we can buy recreation passes, hot lunch food and anything else we need, as well as use restrooms there, will take about two hours.   From there it will take about 15 minutes to drive to the trailhead and another 15 minutes to park the cars before we can start hiking in.

The hike is mostly level, but involves about a 200 feet switchbacked drop to the beach at the two mile point and going back up it on the way out on Sunday.  The first mile of the hike in is on section of trail that was relocated and upgraded a few years ago.  The second mile is on a former road that has numerous large muddy sections that sometimes can be walked around and other times require getting your feet muddy.  The third mile is along the beach and usually permits walking on firm sand the entire way.  This part of the hike could be up to a mile longer, if we cannot find a suitable campsite at our usual location by Petroleum Creek.  So far we have found an available campsite there every time I have led this trip over multiple years.

About 45 minutes before the morning low tides we will have an optional stroll from our campsite to Point of the Arches to inspect the rock tunnels and caves and the marine life there.  There is no other time in the year when so much will be available to see there, so it is important to take advantage of that opportunity.   On Saturday we will have an optional day hike onto the headland at the north end of the 2.4 mile beach, where we will have a view into the next cove, where  we sometimes  see people rapelling down the high, steep slope to camp on the small part of the beach that is above the high tide line.

We will hike out on Sunday after low tide, at a time agreed to by the group.  On the drive home we will have the option to stop at the fascinating Makah Museum in Neah Bay (about $5 per person admission charge) and to have lunch  at the Breakwater Restaurant, 15582 WA-112, Clallam Bay, WA  which is on everyone's driving route home.

There are restrooms at the WIC, the Port Angeles City Hall, Washburn's  General Store and the trailhead.  There is at least one serviceable outhouse at Shi Shi Beach, which is near where we usually camp.  All stream water on the Olympic Coast must be filtered or treated to eliminate giardia and cryptosporidium.  The stream water has an orangish tinge due to tannin from the vegetation.  Tannin is not harmful.    I have survived many years of drinking water filtered from those streams  without any adverse effects.

No parking pass is required at the Port Angeles City Hall parking lot.  Only the Makah Recreation Pass is required at the parking lots near the trailhead. 


Shi Shi Beach

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
Trip Reports