Whether it gives you some time to think or just helps you get close to nature, hiking is a particularly enjoyable activity in itself. But imagine trails through forests taking you to a hidden beach that you never would've expected to find. Cape Alava in Washington offers just that.
Located in Olympic National Park and the Makah Indian Reservation, Cape Alava is the westernmost tip of the contiguous United States, offering two hikes in one.
The 6.9-mile roundtrip, moderate trail not only takes you on a stroll through coastal forests, but you'll also arrive at hidden beaches with an insanely magical quality to them.
To visit, you'll need a National Park Pass which is $30 per vehicle, per day. You can also make use of a Free Park Day on designated days of the year to waive that fee.
The hike starts at Lake Ozette, a pretty body of water that's one of the largest unaltered lakes in the Evergreen State.
This loop is a picture of perfection from the start — it begins with a rustic arched bridge to help you cross the river.
As you make your way through a dense rainforest of red cedars, ferns, and evergreens, you'll come by a cedar boardwalk on the bogs that's straight out of a fairytale.
The boards can get slippery, so make sure you wear shoes with good traction.
As you smell the unmistakable salt in the air and hear the crashing waves of the ocean, you'll need to descend a couple of stairs to get to the shores of a welcoming beach.
Dogs aren't allowed here, but if you're lucky, you'll spot some beached harbor seals and bald eagles.
Pro tip: Find a rope swing on the beach for that perfect photo op!
Make sure to bring your hammocks along to chill after this rewarding hike. This site also allows you to camp overnight under the stars if you find yourself not being able to leave.
Chasing sunsets (and starfish), beachcombing and tide pooling are some of the other popular activities at this spot. If you're a history buff, prepare to see some ancient paintings too.
If you're looking for another adventure closeby, this spot on the coast looks like an exotic island and is only an hour's drive away.
Cape Alava Trail
Length: About 6.9 miles out-and-back
Address: Ozette Loop Trail, 21261 Hoko Ozette Lake Road, Forks, WA
Why You Should Go: You can stand on the westernmost tip of the contiguous United States and explore hidden beaches on a rustic boardwalk trail.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.