Northwest Hiking Trails

Yellow Banks, Olympic NP

Trip reported by Sam Bray.

Wonderfuly senic hike and camping around the Lake Ozette area in the Olympic National Forest. First, you walk through the rain forest from the northern tip of Lake Ozette for about 3 mi. Then you empty out on the coast of the Pacific, at which point you have the option of going either north or south.

We chose south for our adventure, walking along the high beach (which is loose rock instead of sand). The wildlife in the area have no fear of humans and as a result are very curious about you and what you are doing. The water is nice and cold, and very refreshing, with an abundance of tide pool life in and around the rocky coastline.

It is safe to hike aprox. 11 miles south on the beach, however, you should be aware of the tides, lest you become stranded. We chose to only go about 6 miles down the beach, at which point we found a small campsite already prepared from previous hikers.

There is no safe drinking water in the area, so it is highly advisable to bring your own. We packed in a gallon of water each (for two days of camping) and also had food that required little or no water too cook it with. If you are bolder, there were several streams flowing out of the marshes to the east, but I don't recommend using them, even with filters and chemical treatments.

Photo We were lucky enough to have clear weather on our hike, so the sunset was the most spectacular I have ever seen. There were absolutely no artifical lights for miles around. You could actually see the light coming from Japan, due to a condition known as Tropospheric Ducting. It was a most spectacular sight.

Photo:   Ozette Island at sunset (DuBois photo).

During the second night there, I woke up at around 3 am and noticed something warm laying against me. Thinking it was my partner who had gotten cold during the night, I turned over to look. Much to my surprise it wasn't my partner at all, but a rather large racoon. Upon my turning around, the still-sleeping racoon woke up and looked at me. And again to my surprise, it did not scurry off into the woods, but rather just rolled over and went back to sleep. Upon seeing this, I noted the animal's indifference and did the same.

The next morning we both enjoyed a lazy hike back to the car, with many fond memories. I highly reccommend this trip to anyone who loves the ocean.

Stats : The hike did not have much in the way of up or down. But here it is: Highest point: 120 feet above sea level. Lowest point: sea level. Distance: 8.8 mi. Permits: reservation required if you are using a designated camp site, "outback" (no reservation) permit required if you are going outside the desginated camping area. You can apply for one at the ranger station located at the begining of the trail. Outback permits are given no later than 4 pm. At the ranger station you can buy detailed, up-to-date topographical maps of the area, however, they do not sell any other supplies.

Getting there : Going from Seattle, WA. Take I-5 north to the Kingston-Edmonds ferry (highway 104 west to the docks) In Kingston take 104 west to 101 and then take 101 north (west) to Port Angeles. Aprox 2 miles outside of Port Angles you can take 112 west to Lake Ozette, which is more scenic, or you may also take 101 directly to the Lake Ozette road. Either way, next you take the Lake Ozette road south to the actual campgrounds and ranger station. (aprox 18 miles).

Note :   Check weather conditions before your hike. Weather can change suddenly, due to the mountains being so close to the ocean. This is wilderness beach travel. You are responsible for informing yourself of the tidal and other hazards and taking the necessary precautions.

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