Rialto to Ozette Thru Hike, La Push - Mora Beach Trails, Olympic National Park, Washington
Rialto to Ozette Thru Hike - 20.1 miles
La Push - Mora Beach Trails
|Round-Trip Length:||20.1 miles (distance will vary with travel efficiency)|
|Start-End Elevation:||0' - 27' (134' max elevation)|
Rialto to Ozette Thru Hike - 20.1 Miles Round-Trip
Olympic National Park spans 73 miles of wilderness coast from South Beach (south) to Shi Shi Beach (north). The 17.3 mile stretch from Rialto Beach to Ozette is considered one of the most scenic and challenging segments, with several long crescent beaches separated by steep headlands, rocky coves and slippery intertidal zones.
This 2-3 day trek requires careful planning and coordination with tides, weather and available campsites. Proficiency with tide tables is essential for a safe and enjoyable trip. An easy walk at low tide can be treacherous (if not impassable) at high tide, potentially stalling progress for hours.
Sand, cobble, scrambles and steep, rope-aided headland trails can slow travel to 1.5 - 2 miles an hour, even for strong hikers. Account for slower speeds and plan each day around the tide cycle to maximize time and efficiency:
Rialto Beach to Chilean Memorial (3.8 miles)
Head north up Rialto Beach and cross Ellen Creek (.8 miles) to Hole in the Wall (1.6 miles), an interesting arch you can pass right though at low tide (or use the short overland trail at high tide).
The strip north of Hole in the Wall tapers around a headland (2.1 miles), which even at low tide requires significant scrambling. At 3.1 miles it rounds a small but rugged headland into a large cove.
Take advantage of a sparingly-marked inland trail to expedite travel to Chilean Memorial (3.8 miles), a nondescript plaque tucked above the beach on the north end of the cove. The memorial commemorates the W.J. Pirrie, a Chilean ship that wrecked in 1920 with no survivors.
Chilean Memorial to Cedar Creek (5.1 miles)
Continue past the memorial around Cape Johnson (4.4 miles), a jutting headland which requires some deft scrambling. It rounds the hump into a cove and negotiates another with the help of a rope (5.25 miles) onto a 1.4 mile-long beach. There are two streams and nice campsites on this strip.
A moderately-steep rope (6.6 miles) scales a thin grass-brush ridge on the north end and drops onto another long, wide beach. A particularly steep rope-climb on the far end scales a bluff with panoramic views across two beaches and a cluster of stacks and islands just off-shore (7.5 miles : 112'). Use this high perch to scan for seals and sea birds.
A sharp descent drops onto a long beach that's fairy narrow at the south end (7.7 miles). High tide can pinch in against sharp rocks a little bit up the beach, forcing a short but difficult scramble (or wisely wait for more favorable tides).
The beach gradually widens to a creek and the abandoned Starbuck Mine site (8.4 miles), just past which are a few nice campsites under shady hemlocks. Easy beach travel leads over lagoon-like Cedar Creek to a challenging headland climb (8.9 miles).
There are several well-developed campsites at Cedar Creek, though privacy is limited. Consider the first group of sites during busy periods.
Cedar Creek to Yellow Banks (6.3 miles)
Easy walking leads to the Norwegian Memorial (10.0 miles), which commemorates the wreck of The Prince Arthur in 1903. The memorial is set back among trees but marked by surf debris and easy to see from the beach. An abandoned but functional trail connects this point with old logging roads just outside park boundaries.
The route's most tedious and challenging section begins just past Norwegian Memorial. Only attempt this 3 mile stretch at low tide, and account for slow travel across endless tracts of cobble. Bluffs limit access to high ground, and bailout points are few and far between.
At 12.0 miles you'll round a difficult headland (6 ft caution) and turn into a placid cove (12.15 miles). Once across travel gradually moderates on to a thin but serviceable beach (13.4 miles) that straightens out on the run up to Yellow Banks.
Round a short, rocky bend that opens considerably across the wide, idyllic crescent of Yellow Banks (14.0 miles). There is a campsite quota at Yellow Banks. Campsites dot the length of the beach, with notable good ones at either end (the south site is sheltered among surf logs; the north site is located up a short rope on a wood platform about 20' above the beach).
Sites in the middle have their pros and cons - just be mindful of the tides. Not all sites are behind the highest high tide lines. There are two small, low-flow creeks at Yellow Banks. A water bucket for collection can be useful here.
Walk the beach to the far end for the last major headland scramble (15.2 miles).
Yellow Banks to Ozette Trailhead (4.9 miles)
Once over, travel moderates across adjacent coves to the widest beach on this route. Enjoy easy walking past Erickson's Bay Spur Trail (16.7 miles) to the Sand Point Trail, which departs the beach (17.3 miles). Anticipate the trail, as it's easy to miss coming from the south.
The Sand Point Trail runs 2.8 miles on packed gravel and boardwalks under a hemlock and cedar canopy to the Ozette Ranger Station (20.1 miles).
Option: extend your trip 6.2 miles by continuing 3.1 miles past Sand Point to the Cape Alava Trail, which runs 3.1 miles to Ozette.
- N47 55.309 W124 38.316 — 0.0 miles : Rialto Beach Trailhead
- N47 55.985 W124 38.613 — .8 miles : Cross Ellen Creek
- N47 56.508 W124 39.025 — 1.6 miles : Hole in the Wall
- N47 56.952 W124 39.690 — 2.5 miles : Round rugged headland
- N47 57.408 W124 39.921 — 3.1 miles : Round headland into big cove
- N47 57.736 W124 39.808 — 3.5 miles : Improvised inland trail
- N47 57.890 W124 40.335 — 4.0 miles : Begin rounding Cape Johnson headland
- N47 58.074 W124 40.583 — 4.6 miles : Turn into Cape Johnson
- N47 58.381 W124 40.445 — 5.25 miles : Headland Trail - use rope
- N47 58.790 W124 40.254 — 5.9 miles : Campsite
- N47 58.906 W124 40.236 — 6.05 miles : Cross creek
- N47 59.518 W124 40.641 — 6.6 miles : Headland Trail - use rope
- N47 59.950 W124 40.750 — 7.4 miles : Travel up nice beach
- N48 00.209 W124 40.738 — 7.55 miles : Headland Trail - use rope
- N48 00.295 W124 40.688 — 7.8 miles : Travel up nice beach
- N48 01.158 W124 40.851 — 8.9 miles : Cedar Creek + Headland Trail - use rope
- N48 01.710 W124 40.938 — 9.4 miles : Travel up Kayostla Beach
- N48 02.231 W124 40.929 — 10.0 miles : Norwegian Memorial + old trail
- N48 02.838 W124 41.069 — 10.8 miles : Challenging travel through rocks
- N48 03.314 W124 41.402 — 12.0 miles : Begin rounding headland
- N48 03.773 W124 41.625 — 12.15 miles : Challenging travel
- N48 04.232 W124 41.799 — 12.8 miles : Challenging travel
- N48 04.761 W124 41.718 — 13.4 miles : Travel eases on narrow beach
- N48 05.283 W124 41.661 — 14.0 miles : Round headland
- N48 05.559 W124 41.304 — 14.4 miles : Yellow Banks Beach
- N48 06.048 W124 41.454 — 15.3 miles : Cove on far side of Yellow Banks headland
- N48 06.542 W124 41.531 — 15.8 miles : Turn on to big, wide beach
- N48 07.172 W124 41.906 — 16.4 miles : Ozette Lake access trail
- N48 07.502 W124 42.542 — 17.1 miles : Sand Point Trail split
- N48 08.167 W124 41.835 — 18.0 miles : Boardwalk travel through large cedar and hemlock
- N48 09.271 W124 40.135 — 20.1 miles : Ozette Coast Trailhead
- Always carry - and know how to use - a tide table, topo map and watch when hiking the Olympic coast. Many points are only passable at low tide. Tide tables are available at visitor centers and coastal ranger stations. Red and black symbols mark departure points from the beach for overland trails where it's unsafe / impossible to continue on the beach.
- Use established campsites whenever possible. Sites are usually marked by eclectic arrangements of surf debris. It may be difficult to distinguish 'sanctioned' sites from improvised ones, which could potentially lie inside the highest high tide mark. Know how to determine the highest high tide mark before setting up camp. Spots that may seem safe can be compromised at high tide.
- Coastal travel is completely exposed to sun and wind. Apply sunscreen generously, even on cloudy days.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- There's a $5 per person - per night fee to camp in Olympic National Park (children under 16 excluded).
- Rialto Beach is a self-registration trailhead, where you will find forms, permits, and pay boxes.
- There are no quotas or required reservations for La Push - Mora area beaches. Yellow Banks is a quota area. Campsites are not individually assigned, but are available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis.
- Camp only in established sites, which are generally located on the forest edge, or on the beach behind high tide lines. These sites are often concealed behind surf log piles.
- Food Storage: Hard-sided containers (such as bear canisters) are required all along the Olympic coast.
- Campfires: Fires are permitted. Use driftwood only.
- Water: Water is available from coastal streams. This water is typically stained with tannins leached from decaying matter in the forest. Filter or boil all water thoroughly. Chemical treatments are not adequate and should not be used.
- A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.
- Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).
- The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $20 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($30 annual pass).
- Dogs are permitted on Rialto Beach north to Ellen Creek, but not beyond. Pets must be leashed at all times. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
Rialto Beach is located 12.5 miles west of US 101 on Mora Road in Olympic National Park.
From US 101, turn west on La Push Road and drive 7.7 miles to the La Push - Mora Road split. Bear right on Mora Road and continue 4.8 miles to the trailhead.
La Push Road is located 53 miles from Port Angeles on US 101, just as you're entering / leaving the north end of Forks.
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Mora Ranger Station (seasonal)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office