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Kalaloch Beaches

Trail Overview

Spoon Rating: 

1 to 5

Distance:

0.25 average

Elevation Change:

varies

Surface:

various

Amenities:

Not listed

The Kalaloch area beaches primarily feature broad, sandy oceanfront. Each of the access points have their own accessibility problems, but once you get onto the beach it is the easiest walking of all the Olympic National Park beaches.

The few logs on the beach tend to be closer to the hillside, and usually none of them require maneuvering around, but that also means there are few places to sit. The Kalaloch beaches feature large outcroppings along the shoreline that provide excellent tidepooling, and many rock features along the beach and the hillside.  Knowing the tides is important if you want to see the tidepools or hike the coastline. Many of the individual beaches remain walkable at high tide, but know your surroundings and keep an eye on the tide.
 

All of the beaches are accessed directly from Highway 101, a two-lane, highly trafficked highway that curves along the coastline with speed limits between 45mph and 55mph. Cell phone service is spotty at best, and recording or finding specific elevation information is difficult, so the elevation information here is generally an estimate. Trail photos are at the end of their respective guide (click to enlarge for descriptions).
 

Kalaloch is the traditional lands of the Quinault and Queets, and the Quileute and Hoh people. No passes are required to access the beaches, and dogs are allowed on leash.


Ruby Beach


Trail Description: The trail is approximately 0.25 miles long and descends 80 feet to the beach. Overall, I would call half of the trail steep and half a more gradual change. The trailhead is at the parking area, with an information board and a bench to take in partial views of the sea stacks. From here the descent begins slight at first, traveling on loose gravel over compacted earth, with several humps and dips. It then descends steeply for a length of ~200 feet, with much looser gravel – be careful here, as I lost my footing a few times. Here is the overlook, a level place along the cliff with a bench and a guardrail to take in views of ocean.
 

The trail then curves sharply to the right, continuing the descent. There are two dips in the trail, then it curves again to the right and there is a drainage gap to cross over. Curving to the left, you begin a steeper descent for ~400 feet, before it curves again and then levels out.
 

Here are the two beach access points. The first is on the right, a narrow footpath with a tight corridor that brings you to rocks and a dense log jam – it is closer to the creek and requires a longer scramble. Continuing straight on the trail you travel over compact earth with several rocks in the trail, pass an ecological information board, and come to the second access point. The access is more open but still requires crossing lots of logs. There are better views of the sea stacks and coastline from here.

Beach 4

Trail Description: The trailhead is located to the left of the toilets. It begins with a fork. Straight ahead is a short, level compact gravel path through the woods to a small overlook.
 

The fork to the left takes you to the beach. The trail is approximately 0.5 mile long and descends steeply. It begins on loose gravel with a steep drop off on the right where the hillside fell away. It then curves to the right and starts descending, following the creek. The tread is generally compacted and worn. You will take over 100 steps set into the hillside and cross five drainage gaps. It then levels out briefly and the trail section narrows and becomes a bit of a hump, with the creek still steeply below on the left. You then take another dozen steps set into the hillside before the trail levels out a bit and curves around an outcropping. Here it comes out to the footbridge over the creek. The bridge spans the outcropping that you are on, the creek, and several large folded rocks. To get down to the beach, cross the bridge and scramble down the rock on the other side. Watching other hikers, it seems possible to walk down by picking your way carefully – the rock provides many footholds and steps, but it is steep and can be slick depending on weather. I’ve never tried it. The best tide pools are to the right, where a small island and several outcrops at the shoreline.

Beach 3

Trail Description:  The trail starts from the southern end of a pull out on the west side of Highway 101. It is approximately 0.25 miles long and descends about 80 feet on gravel tread and stairs. It begins with a slight decline to an information board, then gradually becomes steeper through two switchbacks for a distance of ~500 feet. The incline then becomes gentler over loose gravel for another 10 paces before coming to a short steep curve with deep, loose gravel.  This section was recently “improved” – it is very easy to slip here, there is a wooden rail that is now too low to be of use as a handrail but is supposed to keep you from the edge of the ravine that is directly in front of you. Use caution and go slowly.
 

From here there are stairs in the trail. First you come to five steps set into the trail and a split drainage gap to step over. It levels out briefly then comes to 12 more steps, as you overlook the beach and lush growth along the creek. The trail curves and comes to a steep set of stairs. The 10 steps are uneven and the tread is worn out in places causing the stair to jut above the level of the soil. There are two natural branch handrails to hold on to, but they can be slick and splintery. At the bottom of the stairs you come to deep sand and walk around the hillside to the creek. To the left of the creek are some cool rock formations and coves with abundant plant life, and some possible tide pools. You can’t walk too far this direction, as there is a rocky point that requires navigating. To the right of the creek stretches miles of beach. It is approximately 2 miles to the tide pools at Beach 4. Check out some of the hillside and rock formations on your walk.

Alley Beach

Trail Description: Starting from the trailhead on the west side of 101, you will travel about 25 feet on a level, narrow gravel foot path. The path then gets slightly non-level where it was widened, with one side a bit higher than the other. There are two steps set into the trail, then you come to a set of stairs – 6 wooden steps with a handrail. This brings you down to the beach, where you will likely have to cross over a wet area and some smooth stones. The path is less than 50 feet in total.

Kalaloch Campground

Trail Description: The trailhead is at the rear corner of the parking lot. The trail starts roughly paved and not entirely level with a slight incline. There is a nice overlook at the top with a railing and views of the beach. The trail then curves into a slightly steep descent, approximately 20 feet long. Cross one drainage gap and then come to a steep, uneven set of stairs. The stairs have five steps filled with rock and compacted sand and a handrail on both sides – the condition of the stairs is changeable depending on use and how much sand gets shifted. At the bottom of the stairs you may need to go around a couple of logs. Head to the right to see the Tree of Life, ~100 feet down the beach.

Big Cedar Tree

Trail Description: The Big Cedar is just a few hundred feet from the parking area. Follow the gravel path around the tree, taking in all of the old and new growth as evidence of the cycle of life in the forest. The tree is now protected by a guardrail because too many people were climbing on or vandalizing the tree, but there is still plenty of room to enjoy the tree. Once you circle the tree, continue on the new gravel path for about 0.1 mile. The trail is in a ‘p’ loop, taking you through the forest and passing by several old growth cedars. There is a lot to see on this short trail, so take your time.

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