Shi Shi Beach is a coastal forest and ocean beach ecosystem located in Clallam County / Neah Bay (home to the Makah Indian Tribe) within Olympic National Park, Washington, and about a 5 hour drive from Seattle. Coined one of the most scenic locations in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a somewhat hidden-gem (because you have to hike to it, in almost always muddy conditions).
However, there’s nothing like the incredible reward of nature — you can find bald eagles flying overhead, plentiful tide-pools, and stunning wilderness among the coast. Local activities include hiking, camping, kayaking, wildlife watching, sport fishing, surfing, beach-going, storm-watching, scuba diving, visiting the Makah National Fish Hatchery, and touring the Makah Cultural and Research Center.
Top-Pick: Local Day Hike
If you’re looking for a quick day-hike, the Shi Shi Beach Trail is 2 miles from the parking area to the beach. For backpackers, campers, or those looking to add a little more mileage to their adventure, the Shi Shi Beach + Point of the Arches trail is an 8 mile roundtrip hike with only a 200 feet elevation gain, starting near the fish hatchery on the Makah Indian Reservation (Washington Trails Association, 2019). The trail consists of rainforest hiking and beach walking (Makah Indian Tribe, 2019). Note from Washington Trails Association and the Makah Tribe — “Day hikers to Shi Shi Beach will need a Makah Recreation Pass. Overnight users will need both the Makah Pass and a wilderness camping permit which is available at the Wilderness Information Center.” A Makah Recreation Pass is required for parking at the trail head, which is $10.
When asked this area’s hiking difficulty, the Makah Tribe website states, “The trail through the forest to the beach is slightly undulating but has no significant gain in elevation. Expect mud, bridges and boardwalks that may be slippery. The trail is well maintained and navigation is easy.”
Camping is permitted in the Petroleum Creek area with a permit, and sites are available right on the beach (be sure to camp above the high tide water line and use a tide table when planning your trip) and in the forest; you can obtain a permit from the Wilderness Information Center, in Port Angeles, or at the South Shore Lake Quinault Ranger Station (National Park Service, 2019).
All food, garbage, and items with scents must be stored in park-approved bear canisters along the entire Olympic National Park Wilderness Coast when camping overnight or when leaving items unattended, as raccoons, bears, and other coastal wildlife call this area home (National Park Service, 2019). You can rent them from the Visitor Center in Port Angeles.
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Pets are permitted along the trail but are not permitted past the National Park Boundary after 1.7 miles (Makah Tribe, 2019).
The three most famous trails within Neah Bay are to Cape Flattery, to Shi Shi Beach, and the trail from Lake Ozette to the Pacific Ocean (Neah Bay, Washington, 2019).
Who’s adding this coastal experience to their adventure list?