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Length: 13.6 miles
Trailhead(s): Third Beach
Elevation Gain: 1,379’
Trail Type: Out & Back
Permit Required? Yes
Considerations: Bear Canisters Required, Use of Permanent Ropes for Climbing to Overland Trail Portions, Trailhead Parking Limited – Get There Early
Season: Year Round
Olympic National Park’s Third Beach to Toleak Point is a fun, interesting, beautiful, and adventurous backpack. It is accessible to most, although you must be comfortable carrying your backpack up and down ladders and ropes (more on that in a moment). The cliffs, sea stacks, wildlife, driftwood, and rugged beauty of the coast all combine for a memorable experience. If you enjoy being at the coast and you enjoy backpacking, don’t miss this one!
Now, looking at the trail stats above, you may have been struck by “Elevation Gain.” Yup, that’s right! Backpacking on the Olympic Coast is not just a beach stroll. The Coast is rugged and has impassable headlands in areas, requiring the use of permanent ropes and ladders (marked by orange and black symbols on trees – see slide below) to get above the beach and on to the overland trails. The ups and downs required to travel along the coast add up, resulting in elevation gain. Additionally, some areas have no overland trails, requiring you to wait until low tide to pass through the area (note that you do not want to get caught in these areas at high tide – people have died being caught by the tide). The hike from Third Beach to Toleak Point encompasses all of these challenges, but the pay-off is worth the effort.
The backpack starts at the Third Beach trailhead. Parking at the trailhead is very limited, so get there early morning to ensure a spot. The hike begins on an overland trail through the coastal forest, eventually reaching the beach.
Once at the beach, the hike becomes a combination of beach and overland hiking, using ropes and ladders to reach the overland portions of the trail. Just past the Scott Creek camping area, however, there is no overland trail and passage to Toleak Point requires waiting for low tide to continue on the beach. (The links below contain Olympic National Park links to tide charts. Make sure you know how to read and use the charts to ensure safe passage.)
The route from Third Beach to Toleak offers a number of camping areas with room for a large number of backpackers – which is a big positive because this is a very popular backpacking trip. Although backcountry permits are required, none of the designated camping areas on this hike are limited by quota, so you do not have to stick to a particular itinerary. Just find a camping spot in one of the designated camping areas, pitch your tent, build your fire with the ample driftwood, and look and listen to the ocean.
Now get out there and enjoy!
Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.
- Olympic National Park Information:
- Olympic NP Coastal Hike Planner:
Backpacking Third Beach to Toleak Point Slideshow
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Articles About Other Regional Outventures that May Interest You (click to view):
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