Coastal Backpacking: Trip Planning and Execution - Seattle - 2022

Backpacking & Outdoor Leadership Course

Coastal Backpacking: Trip Planning and Execution

For current and future Mountaineers backpacking trip leaders: how to plan and lead safe and enjoyable backpacking trips along the coastal beaches and headlands of the Pacific Northwest. Non-leaders may also register starting April 15.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

This course is intended for current and future Mountaineers backpacking trip leaders who are interested in leading trips along the various standard beach routes of the Pacific Northwest, especially along the Olympic coast.

Why Beach Trips?

Beach trips can be beautiful, fun, and very different from the inland trips that we are all most familiar with.  However, from the perspective of a trip leader they  are appealing  for additional reasons too:

  • Coastal routes are usually not affected by the wildfires, smoke, and heat that can impact the rest of the state.  They can be reliable primary destinations most of the season, and a good fallback destinations for inland trips during episodes of smoke, heat,  or high fire risk.
  • They can be excellent shoulder season trips, especially in the spring when the weather is nice at lower elevations but the high country is still under snow.
  • Most beach campsites are spacious and can accommodate large groups if desired (up to the Mountaineers limit of 12).  For leaders who desire to do so, choosing a beach route can be a way to accommodate many participants on a single trip, for example course field trips, other student-oriented outings, or if you simply enjoy leading larger trips.
  • Most coastal campsites are part of Olympic National Park and are reservable well in advance, making it easier to plan Mountaineers-style trips.

Beach trips are also one of the categories for the coveted Gold Backpack .

About THE Course

The course covers a variety of topics that are unique to planning and leading beach trips (see "Topics" below).  The topics are distributed across a lecture and a field trip, with some topics covered at only one or the other.  Therefore it is necessary to attend both the lecture and the field trip to get the full benefit of the course. The field trip is a typical Mountaineers beach trip, but with additional instructional presented at points throughout the trip.

As with all trips, the field trip may need to be rescheduled in case of bad weather or other adverse conditions.


Until April 15 registration is open only to current backpacking trip leaders, after which non-leaders may register also.   Seattle Backpacking leaders and leader candidates are eligible for a discounted course fee and may register in advance of the general registration opening date.  Contact the course leader for details.

This course is open to fully vaccinated leaders and participants only.   See "COVID Considerations" below.


Overview of standard Olympic Peninsula backpacking routes.

Tides: why they are important, where to look them up, and how to plan your itinerary to accommodate them.

Permits for National Park and tribal destinations.

Basic trip planning and management:

  • Setting realistic speed and distance expectations when hiking on sand.
  • Signage.
  • Route finding along the ever-changing coastline.
  • Using the ropes and ladders present on many coastal routes.
  • Where to get fresh water.
  • Gear considerations
  • Food storage

Safety Considerations:

  • The most common sources of injuries and how to avoid them.
  • Safe group travel in tidal areas.
  • Evacuation if the beach becomes unsafe.
  • Safely traversing stream and river crossings in the tidal zone.
  • Hazards exposed at low tide.
  • When to cancel a trip.


  • Trips for keeping clean when spending days around sand and salt.
  • Best practices for food preparation and cleanup.
  • Best practices for Leave No Trace in the beach environment

Common transportation practices for group trips that begin and end at distant beach trailheads.

COVID Considerations

This course is open to fully vaccinated leaders and participants only. Participants will be required to email an image of their vaccination card, which may have details blocked blocked out except for name and date of 2nd dose.  Additional details will be provided as the date of the course approaches.

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Coastal Backpacking Lecture
Seattle Program Center
Thu, May 12, 2022
Registration closes May 10
15 participants
0 instructors
Coastal Backpacking Field Trip
Ozette Triangle
Fri, Jun 3, 2022 -
Sun, Jun 5, 2022
Registration closes Jun 1
7 participants
Olympic Coast South: The Wildcatter Coast
Sat, Jun 11, 2022 -
Mon, Jun 13, 2022
Registration closes Jun 2
8 participants
0 instructors
Required Equipment

Your usual backpacking kit.

Course Materials

There are no materials for this course.