Ozette Triangle Trail
The Ozette Triangle is a classic loop hike that will bring you through the secluded northwest section of the park. You’ll pass by weird and wonderful rock formations, enjoy spectacular views over the wild ocean and see a whole new side of the Olympic National Park.
To get to the start of the Ozette Triangle trail, head west from Port Angeles on US 101 for 7.4km. Turn onto WA-112 W for 78.2km to Seiku. Past Seiku turn left on Ozette Lake Rd. Follow for 34.1km until you reach the parking area.
|When to do|
Yes, on the beach, but be sure to get a permit.
Yes, at trailhead.
Ozette Triangle Trail
Ozette Triangle Loop Trail Description
To start the Ozette Triangle loop, head down the main trail from the parking area and cross over the Ozette River. You will arrive at a Y junction where you will turn right to head along the Cape Alava Trail. This path is mostly boardwalks – they are there to protect the sensitive ecology; however, they can be extremely slippery when wet. Take care.
Follow this slightly undulating trail as it heads out for approximately one-third of the total distance of the hike down to the ocean. Finally, you will descend to the sand, just inland from the beautiful Ozette Island.
Once you’re on the beach look back to check out the circular indicator marking the transition from beach to trail. Knowing what these look like will be useful when making the transition back inland.
Begin heading south along the beach. Hiking along the sand or rocks can be difficult and usually takes longer than expected. As you head south you will pass by several very impressive rock formations. On the way down you will see several signs for trails going inland, but these are simply marked as an alternative route for when the tide is high. The real Ozette Triangle trail back inland is just past an immense, grassy mound, at the end of the large bay you have been hiking along.
At the south end of the beach climb up the grassy mound, called Sand Point, to get some impressive panoramic views of the beach on either side. The trail back to the parking lot is just south of Sand Point, a few hundred feet down the next beach.
Return along the North Sand Point Trail all the way to the parking area, along even more boardwalks!
Hiking Trail Highlights
Ozette Lake covers almost 30 square kilometers and is the largest unaltered lake in Washington State. Indeed, the indigenous Ozette Makah peoples called the lake ‘Kahouk’, meaning ‘large lake’. However, it’s also a curiously deep body of water, reaching a depth of over 100m, meaning its bottom lies a long way below sea level.
The beautiful, unspoiled landscape around Lake Ozette is an important wildlife habitat. The lake itself sustains a healthy population of fish, including trout, bass, perch and salmon, and many threatened bird species. Hiking here is incredibly peaceful – humans have left few traces in this tranquil spot, so you can really enjoy the elements and wildlife as you walk.
That said, the lake is now a popular spot for boating, fishing, hiking, and even wild swimming! However, the expansive waters provide plenty of space for exploration, and you’re unlikely to feel crowded out, even in the peak of summer.
The Pacific Ocean
One of the real highlights of this trail is the chance to walk alongside the mighty Pacific Ocean, on a dramatic, rocky beach studded with strange rock formations. Don’t miss the ‘cannonball’ rocks near Cape Alava, almost perfectly-spherical rocks carefully sculpted by the water over thousands of years.
You should also look out for the so-called ‘Wedding Rocks’ on the beach, a series of tall, dramatic rocks marked with ancient petroglyphs. The views over the wild ocean here are very impressive, and the rugged coastline will make you feel as though you are in an ancient wilderness, shaped by the elements over millennia.
Be sure to consult the tide table, and try to do this hike when the tide is low. The trail is passable when the tide is high; however, having the entire beach to explore is a nice treat.
Bring shoes or boots with stiff soles as the hard rocks can make the soles of your feet very sore.
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