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on_sabbatical
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PostSun Aug 29, 2021 4:04 pm 
Hello all,

Long time lurker here. I just had the pleasure of completing the Lost Coast trail and am now in search of more coastal wilderness experience. This has led me to the Olympic Wilderness Coast, where we will be in two weeks time. Unfortunately, we just have time to do only one section of the trail.

Based on your experience and expertise, which section of the trail offers more value: north or south? If you could only do one, which would ya pick?

Much appreciated.

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Olympic Hiker
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PostSun Aug 29, 2021 6:02 pm 
I would do any or all of the coast north of Rialto Beach. It has a good mixture of sandy beaches, headlands and rocky beaches that take time navigating.

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Malachai Constant
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PostSun Aug 29, 2021 6:11 pm 
Both have amazing scenery marine, animals, Sandy beaches, rocky beaches, and headlands that must be rounded on overland trails. North is a bit easier and stays on the beach most all the time. South has more longer overland trails and a couple river/creek crossings and a bit more wilderness. North generally more people but both slammed in summer good weather.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Get Out and Go
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PostSun Aug 29, 2021 6:46 pm 
Win/Win!  Each with its own challenges and pleasures.  smile.gif

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monorail
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PostMon Aug 30, 2021 8:13 am 
I believe the north coast is still closed north of Cape Alava, and will remain so until at least Oct. 1st, due to the Makah and Ozette tribal closures. The Quileute land is open again (last I heard; could change due to Delta), so you can go to La Push/Second Beach.

If you'll be doing an out-and-back (no shuttle) trip, I would start near La Push at 3rd Beach and head south (but also take some time at the beginning or end to explore 2nd beach at low tide). And when you're done, if you have more time and energy, you could head over to Rialto and explore northwards a bit.

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MojaveGeek
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PostThu Sep 09, 2021 5:32 pm 
Sorry, a bit late to this discussion, but I've spent a lot of time out there so I will chime in.

In general, hiking logistics are easier going south.   There are few tide issues - you always have to use the overland trail over Taylor point and unless you are amazingly well timed you'll have to go up and over to Scott's Bluff.  The overland trails are generally in good shape and I enjoy the contrast of the forest with the beach.   Going south, most of your beach walking is on sand, which makes easier going.  At low tides (below half tide) you can really cruise and make good time.  Toleak Pt out and back in a day is straightforward, or camp there and head down to Hoh Head in between.  There are a number of water options and lots of camp spots.   Just south of Scotts Bluff is a big rock which requires half tide or less to get around but you can get through a short overland crawl in downed trees.  Another a few hundred yards south.   Otherwise clear.

Going north, it is a bit tougher.  Rialto Beach is great at low tide but a real gravel slog above half tide.  Water at Ellen Creek, which you must pass to camp.  Hole in Wall is great if you can get through.  The crux is near the shore on the south side - if you can pass that, you are through.   Otherwise a short overland bit.  North of the Hole, loose gravel, not too bad, any tide to an unnamed point.  You can go around the bottom at low tide but it is a bit slippery so we always go over.  Cute hand holds in the short down climb on the far side.  Wonderful tide pools north of that.   You hit an obstacle that is impassible above 4 or 5 ft a bit further   It is deceptive coming from the south but a cliff to very slippery rocks on the north.  Beyond, you pass a point, at any tide.  The bay housing Chilean Memorial has a bunch of medium cobbles and can be tedious, tough at high tide.   Cape Johnson beyond is open, exposed, and long and may be limited at high tide.   Beyond you have a bunch of pretty walkable beach with a couple of tidal choke points.   Up around Norwegian memorial wonderful  sand beaches to walk (your are well out of day hike range here, though I've gotten this far north on a two-nighter, sleeping a bit north of Cape Johnson by a small stream).    There's some tough stuff, just a lot of cobbles, south of Yellow Banks, but the beach at the banks is sweet.  May be hard to get around the point immediately north of Yellow Banks.  There is rumored to be a tunnel at high tide but I've not tried it.   From there to Sand Point, some really awesome beach walking.

For a two nighter I would go south.  For longer, I would go north.  Day tripping, either way but time your walking to the tide and you will be *much* happier.   Sometimes we get out while it is still dark, and then hole up and nap some place along the beach at high tides.  We always take a blue tarp and some rope for shelter from showers, or for sun if it is clear - there is not a lot of shade in the afternoon unless you want to hide in the woods.

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RumiDude
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PostThu Sep 09, 2021 11:40 pm 
For me, the section north section from Rialto to Shi Shi is my favorite. Heed the tide tables closely!

Rumi

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HikerJohn
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PostFri Sep 10, 2021 8:04 pm 
I'm a "south" guy.  Haven't spent a lot of time on the north section, but the south section offers what I want: solitude and true wilderness.  I love to do a through trip-- drop a car at 3rd beach, drive down to Oil City and hike north.  There are some trail sections where the beach is impassable, but also lots of long beach walks with a real wild flavor.

Only downside is tides-- you have to time your crossings just right, otherwise you find yourself waiting a while-- which is not a bad thing!  One caution-- don't push bad positions.  If you are running late, don't try to do low tide crossings when the tide is coming up-- it could cost you your life!

J

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