Intro to Backpacking Field Trip - Ozette Triangle

Field trip: Introduction to Backpacking

Intro to Backpacking Field Trip - Ozette Triangle

Join me on a three-day relaxed pace coastal adventure where we’ll explore tidepools, petroglyphs, and visit the westernmost point of the lower 48 states. Preference to Tacoma Introduction to Backpacking students. Trip will open to all Mountaineers to register on April 30.

  • Easy/Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 9.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Pace: 1 to 1.5 mph depending on terrain

Ozette Ranger Station parking area 10am. America the Beautiful or Olympic National Park pass required for drivers. Drive time from Tacoma is about 4 hours one way. From Seattle it will be longer. Participants should review the sailing times before signing up if they plan to travel via ferry to ensure that they can make the meeting time. Alternatively, participants may opt to stay some place local the night before the trip to reduce the drive time.

Preference to Tacoma Branch Introduction to Backpacking Students. Trip will open to all Mountaineers on April 30.

Spend a long weekend near the salty sea and you will be yearning to come back and experience more of what Washington’s wild coast is all about. Bear canisters are required by Olympic National Park for this trip and $16 fee per person payable to the leader on the first day for the backcountry camping permits.

Favorable tides will allow us to hike at a relaxed pace on the beach but expect terrain changes to include hard and soft sand, pea gravel, seaweed, slick rocks, and obstacles like boulders and driftwood. Coastal hiking can be mentally and physically exhausting, but the reward is an experience that often includes seeing eagles feed at low tide along rocky shorelines, seals and otters bobbing in the surf, and deer roaming the beaches. We expect to camp one night at Sand Point and a second night at Cape Alava with a variety of side trips to increase mileage and exploration of the area. Note that camp locations are subject to change based on permit availability which will be determined on April 15.

This is a relaxed pace trip where backpackers of all abilities are welcome. Pace over the beach portion of the trip on Day 2 is expected to be on average 1 mph or less with all of the obstacles we'll encounter and a couple stops along the way for scenery appreciation and beach exploration. If you enjoy a faster pace trip, this may not be the trip for you.

Anticipated itinerary

Day 1: Hike 3 miles to our camp at Sand Point. Set up camp, have lunch on the point, and check out the area. In the later afternoon there will be an optional day hike with lighter packs south towards Yellow Banks to explore the area including tidepools, sea stacks, and future camping options. Return to camp for dinner and sunset on the beach together. Total distance and gain with the optional day hike is about 7.5 miles and 200 ft gain.

Day 2: Break camp and hike another 3.25 miles to Cape Alava stopping at Wedding Rocks for a snack and searching for as many petroglyphs as we can find. Hint: there’s 40+ recorded petroglyphs. From there, we’ll hike to Cape Alava and set up camp for our second night. In the afternoon, there will be an optional day hike of about a mile round trip north along the beach to the westernmost point of the lower 48 states. We will also spend some time learning about how the coastal indigenous people lived by visiting a small-scale replica of a Makah longhouse perched near the beach. This replica longhouse pays respect to the past inhabitants of a small village that was buried by a landslide. Read more about the discovery of the Ozette Village here. When we’ve had our fill of exploration we’ll return to Cape Alava for dinner and sunset on the beach together. Total distance and gain with the optional day hike is about 4.3 miles and 160 feet gain.     

Day 3: Pack up and hike out via the Cape Alava trail 3.3 miles and 300 feet gain.

Completion of this trip may satisfy one of several iconic backpacking routes listed in the Gold, Silver, or Bronze Backpack badges. Award badges are open to any member to earn.  

My style

I prefer a more social experience and enjoy the company of others on trips. When I'm not socializing, you will probably catch me gazing at the beauty of the backcountry or taking pictures of it. I've been known to swim in alpine lakes, stand underneath waterfalls, and soak my feet in cold water after a hard day hiking. In the evenings I like to sit around the campfire or communal area and drink my tea to wind down for the night and I'm usually up early in the mornings, sometimes to watch the sunrise with a warm drink. If these sound like experiences you would enjoy, I'd love your company!


Ozette Triangle

  • Green Trails Ozette No. 130S

    Custom Correct Ozette Beach Loop

    Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park

    Green Trails Olympic Coast Beaches No. 99S
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

To be discussed at lecture for Introduction to Backpacking course students.

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
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports