Lake Ozette – Washington’s Largest Unaltered Natural Lake
Lake Ozette, Washington’s third largest natural lake, is located just a few miles from the Pacific Coast in Olympic National Park. The remote and largely untouched lake offers a variety of recreation, including hiking, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, and camping.
Lake Ozette makes a nice day trip from Manitou Lodge and remains a popular destination for many guests. If getting out and exploring some of the unique aspects of the Pacific Northwest is what you’re after, Lake Ozette checks that box.
The Makah name for the lake is “Kahouk,” meaning “large lake;” an appropriate name. The lake is 8 miles long, 3 miles wide, 331 feet deep at its deepest, and covers more than 12 square miles. As you can imagine, the lake has numerous bays, tributaries, and outlets to explore. It’s also home to three islands: Garden Island, Tivoli Island, and Baby Island.
Boating and Fishing Lake Ozette
Two of the most popular activities at the lake are boating and fishing.
Kayakers and canoers, in particular, will enjoy exploring the lake’s many inlets, especially south of the Swan Bay boat launch. The lake’s three islands are also a favorite destination for paddlers. Sandy shored Tivoli Island is especially popular for overnight camping but caution is urged. High winds, up to two-foot high waves, and cold waters can make venturing out into the lake’s deeper waters treacherous.
Lake Ozette is home to 13 species of fish, including cutthroat trout, bass, perch, and sockeye, Kokanee, and Coho salmon. Boat ramps are available at Swan Bay and the northern end of the lake.
The Lake Ozette area is home to a number of hiking trails. Three of the trails are cedar boardwalks, maintained by the Park Service. Two of these boardwalk trails lead to the stunning, 3,300 square mile Pacific Coast Marine Sanctuary.
The Northern Trail is a 3.2-mile boardwalk that leads through forest and prairie to the beach at Cape Alava.
The Southern Boardwalk (3.3 miles) takes you to to Sand Point and Wedding Rock. Wedding Rock is the site of numerous 300 to 500 year old Ozette Indian Petroglyphs.
For those who really want to stretch their legs, try the Ozette Loop Trail. This 9 mile loop trek connects the above two trails with a 3.1 mile hike on the rocky and sandy Pacific Coast beach. Gorgeous.
All three hikes begin behind the Ozette Ranger Station and are fairly easy, with little elevation gain or rough terrain to speak of. The boardwalks can get quite slippery when wet or frosty, however. Softer soled tennis or walking shoes do better than stiff-soled hiking boots.
If you’re in the mood for a picnic or camping, Ozette Campground is an excellent choice. The popular campground is located on Ozette’s north shore, just inside Olympic National Park.
The campground features a Ranger Station, boat ramp, vault toilet, potable water, and campsites with picnic tables and fire rings. Trailheads for the above hikes start off from here, as well. Ozette Campground is open year round.
Lake Ozette is a wonderful destination for those after peaceful solitude in a natural setting. A plethora of wildlife, remote islands, and well maintained trails leading to the coast make it a favorite for many. While it is a bit of drive from Manitou Lodge’s front door, it’s a bit of a drive from just about everywhere – that’s a good part of its attraction and why the lake remains so quiet, pristine, and worthy of your time.
Learn more about visiting Lake Ozette online at www.nps.gov.