Shi Shi Beach


Backpack - Shi Shi Beach

Explore the most beautiful and fascinating beach on the Olympic Coast during two of the lower tides of the year, permitting walking through multiple rock tunnels and caves at Point of the Arches, and viewing a variety of marine life there.

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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 Saturday May 23 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 at N Race St and continuing up the hill to the south end of town, where you find the WIC 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 requested bear canisters.  Olympic National Park requires that all food and other odor-emitting substances be secured overnight at Shi Shi Beach in an approved bear canister.  If you do not bring your own, you must borrow one from the WIC at no cost.  Then you need to repack your gear, because the canister must be placed inside your pack.

Before we leave the WIC, camp fees will be collected (in cash) from each participant, so be sure to have the correct cash with you.  We will then caravan to the Port Angeles City Hall to leave the extra cars of those consolidating cars at that point.  The limited available parking spots for Shi Shi Beach backkpackers  near the trailhead fill up early on three day weekends.  Also the parking fees last year for our three days were $20 per car in one lot and $30 per car in the other lot.  Each car must display a  Makah Tribal Recreation Pass, which last year cost $10 per calendar year.  So that is three reasons to arrive at the trailhead parking lots in as few cars as possible.  Also, this backpack trip has one of the longest driving distances, so minimizing per person rider fees is also important.

The drive from Port Angeles to Washburn's General Store in Neah Bay, our next rendezvous spot will take about two hours.  There we can buy hot lunch food to go and eat at the trailhead.  We can also buy the Makah Recreation passes there and anything else we might need.  The drive from there to the trailhead takes about 15 minutes.   It will take another half hour to get the cars parked and eat lunch before startjng our hike.

The hike in is mostly level, except for a switchbacked 200 feet drop to the beach at the two mile point.  The first mile is on a good trail that was relocated a few years ago.  The second mile is on an abandoned Coast Guard road that is not maintained and has multiple large muddy sections along it that sometimes can be walked around and other times require getting your boots muddy.  For that reason, waterproof boots are required for this trip.  The third mile is along the beach, which usually provides a hard sand surface the entire way .  Up to an additional mile could be added if there is no available campsite by Petroleum Creek, where we have always been able to camp before.  The earlier we arrive, the better choice of campsites we will have.  The beach tends to get crowded on three day weekends. 

The low tides while we are at the beach are +2.17 at 7:56 PM on Saturday May 23, -1.35 ft. at 8:39 AM on Sunday May 24,  and  -1.33 ft at 9:18 AM on Monday.  At the Sunday morning low tide, we will walk to Point of the Arches to view the rock tunnels and caves and the marine life there.  Those wanting a second view can walk out there for the Monday morning low tide.  During the day on Sunday, we will have an optional day hike onto the headland at to the north end of Shi Shi  Beach to view the cove on the other side and sometimes see backpackers rappelling down the long steep drop to the small section of beach there that is above the high tide line.   Monday morning we will hike out after low tide at a time agreeable to the group.

On the drive home we will have the option to visit the Makah Museum in Neah Bay, which has an admission charge of around $5 and to stop for lunch at the Breakwater Restaurant in Clallam Bay, which has good food and a spectacular view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island beyond.

There are restrooms at the WIC, the Port Angeles City Hall, Washburn's General Store, the trailhead, the Makah Museum and the Breakwater Restaurant.  There is at least one usable outhouse at Shi Shi Beach, which is near where we usually camp.  No parking pass is required except the Makah Recreation Pass, which must be displayed at the trailhead parking lots. 


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
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