It’s hard to find a spot along the wild and rugged Olympic Coast that isn’t picturesque. For many, however, one the coast’s most beautiful spots is Point of the Arches on Shi Shi Beach. Here you’ll find hiking, camping, beachcombing, tidepooling, and photograph opportunities galore!
Shi Shi Beach is one of Washington state’s most pristine coastal areas. The nearly two and a half mile long beach is found on the west side and near the tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. It is bordered to the north by rocky cliffs and a cluster of sea stacks – Point of the Arches – to the south.
Wilderness and wildlife fans alike adore the area. Otherworldly rock formations and sea stacks populate the stunning vistas. Tide pools and coves teem with myriad life. Bald eagles fly overhead and nest in the trees. Even sea lions and whales make the occasional appearance. Photographers stay for days to capture the remarkable sunsets.
Shi Shi Beach
Shi Shi Beach is part of Olympic National Park but parking and access to the trailhead are on the Makah Indian Reservation. This means you will need a Makah Recreation Pass, which can be purchased in nearby Neah Bay. Since you are parking on the reservation, you won’t need an Olympic National Park Pass. If you plan to camp, however, you will need an Olympic National Park Wilderness Camping Permit.
You’ll also want to check the tide tables before you head out. Not only will you be on a beach, several headlands must be crossed to reach it and you don’t want to get caught unprepared. Tides are no joke.
The Shi Shi Beach access trailhead is located near the fish hatchery. The trail is relatively flat and only 2 miles in length. That being said, it is also often very, very muddy, despite bridges and stretches of boardwalk. Please do your best to stay on the trail as it is bordered by private property almost all the way to the beach.
The only real climb on the trail comes at the end. Here you have to make your way down a 150-foot bluff on a steep, eroded trail and – BAM. Miles of beautiful surf and sand, plus sea stacks, bleached logs, and wildlife, stretching to the south.
Point of the Arches
Point of the Arches, a unique collection of sea stacks and arches, is one of the most picturesque sections of coastline in Washington. It is located at the south end of Shi Shi Beach.
The 2.3 mile hike is a relatively easy one. Add it to your Shi Shi Beach day trip, if weather and tides allow. About halfway through your journey you’ll pass Petroleum Creek, the only reliable source of fresh water on Shi Shi.
Continue on and soon you’ll be among tide pools and a mile-long queue of rocky sea stacks. Now its time to explore and soak up the natural beauty of the arches, tide pools, and beach.
As we mentioned in our post about the Cape Flattery Trail post – there are lots of things to do and see in the Neah Bay area. The Cape Flattery Trail, Hobuck Beach, the Makah Museum – the list goes on.
Make a day of it. Soak up as much of that Pacific Northwest beauty as you can. When you just can’t take any more, come on back to your hideaway in the woods at Manitou Lodge, put your feet up, and relax.