Take an easygoing hike or backpack on a stunningly scenic Olympic National Park beach, as portrayed in these photos by Seattle Times photographer Bettina Hansen.
In the northwest corner of Washington, the magical Shi Shi Beach is a natural treasure that draws day-hikers and backpackers.
The Pacific wilderness beach lies within Olympic National Park. It’s got it all. Several miles of sandy beach. Majestic sea stacks. Tide pools brimming with life. And a border of thick forest, the trees bent and shaped by relentless winds.
Some people come just for a day since the hike is only about 8 miles round trip (or shorter if wished), through forest and along the beach, and there’s only about a 200-foot elevation change. Others pitch tents and stay for the spectacular sunsets and, in this endless Washington summer, starry nights. Families and new hikers often have their first backpacking adventures at Shi Shi. And on weekends there can be a crowd of happy campers.
Listen to the crash of the waves, the calls of seabirds, the whistling wind. Peer into tide pools, brimming with sea stars and other marine life. Gaze at the majestic sea stacks at the Point of Arches.
Shi Shi Beach, although within the national park, is edged by the Makah Indian Reservation, which also regulates access.
Get information about the trail, permits (you’ll need a recreation permit from the Makah, a camping permit from the park), vehicle parking and more at these websites:
Olympic National Park, nps.gov/olym
Washington Trails Association, www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/north-shi-shi-access
Makah Tribe: makah.com