Trip Report    

Coastal Backpacking Field Trip - Olympic Coast South: The Wildcatter Coast

A three-day backpacking trip along the ONP coast from Oil City to Third Beach. Field trip for the Seattle Coastal Backpacking Course.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Roads and trailhead parking for both the Oil City and Third Beach Trailheads were in good condition and presented no issues.

    Leg 1 - Oil City Trailhead to Mosquito Creek: Trails in good condition. The ropes for ascending and descending Hoh Head were present, well marked, and in good condition. Mosquito Creek Camp was spacious and beautiful, with a new privy that was in excellent shape. The trail leading to Mosquito Creek camp has recently been rerouted, and the trails shown on both Caltopo and Gaia are no longer accurate. Instead of descending and entering camp directly from the south, the new trail stays high and passes the camp before looping back and descending into camp from the northeast. The main trail no longer runs through camp; instead, the camp is now reached via a fairly long side trail that is well marked by a sign. The privy has been located so that it is no longer in the middle of camp, but instead is located outside of camp at the intersection with the main trail.  Because we were arriving at high tide when Mosquito Creek can be full of saltwater from the ocean waves, we fetched water on our way into camp from an unnamed stream about 0.5 file south of camp (the last stream before camp when traveling north).

    Leg 2 - Mosquito Creek to Toleak Point:  Trails and ropes were all in good condition and well marked. There is no fresh water at the Toleak Point campsite itself, but fresh water is available from Jackson Creek, about a 15 minute walk along the beach. The Toleak Point campsite was in good shape except for the privy, which has a broken seat and is close to being full.

    Leg 3 - Toleak Point to Third Beach Trailhead: Trails and ropes were in good shape except for the ladders that connect Third Beach and the north side of Tailor Point. About half of the descent route is filled with brand new ladders which look great but were VERY slippery even though it was dry when we descended them. Each rung was so slippery that our feet slid sideways and popped off the end. The consensus of the group was that the new ladders were worse than just a plain dirt trail, and we ended up descending along the bare ground next to the ladders instead of the ladders themselves. There is a dead whale at the base of the final rope leading to the beach.  It seemed relatively recent and was not in bad shape yet. By contrast, on the southside of Tailor Point there are brand new wooden steps, lots and lots of them. They were excellent and very helpful. The boardwalk through the final section of forest was in good shape except for a few slippery spots.

This was the field trip for the Seattle Coastal Backpacking Course that had been originally scheduled for March but had to be rescheduled twice due to weather.  We hiked south to north starting at Oil City and ending at Third Beach.

Day 1

We intentionally started late on the first day - noon - so that the group could see first hand what conditions are like at the most tide-restricted point on the route at the moment when the maps and the tide charts say that it becomes impassible.  We got there early, and while waiting for the tide to come in, enjoyed an extended lunch break on a perfect sunny afternoon on a beautiful beach.  Never has learning been more pleasant.

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There was time to create some paintings while waiting for the tide.

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After walking across the beach for a while it was time to start climbing the ropes and ladders over our first headland, Hoh Head.

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As we continued over Hoh Head toward camp we started to get our first peek-a-boo views of the ocean below.


We arrived at the spacious Mosquito Creek Camp in late afternoon. Nice camp!

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Our leisurely schedule allowed time in camp for more painting.

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Day 2

The next day we paused next to Mosquito Creek to admire a sectional couch made of driftwood.


We also stopped to admire several interesting rock formations along the way.  By passing through at low tide we got to see many things that might otherwise have been under water.



Because we were hiking into an outgoing tide we often found ourselves walking on reflections.


After spending a couple hours passing up and over Taylor Point we finally got our first glimpse of Third Beach about 250' below us.


The descent to Third Beach was the highest and had the most ropes.



After traversing the length of the breach we arrived at the outlet of Jackson Creek on our way to Toleak Point in the background


Ater arriving at Toleak Point camp we were pleasantly surprised at the view from our tent sites.


The afternoon left time for more painting.20230625_175052 (1).jpg

Day 3

On our final morning we were treated with an exceptionally beautiful sunrise, which we stayed to appreciate before starting the hike out.



Photos: Dave Brown, Mckenzie Campbell Davies, Allen White, David Bradley

Paintings: Mckenzie Campbell Davies