This Popular Beach Hike Is A Must-Do For Beautiful Views Of The Pacific Coastline

From the Hoh Rainforest to marine reserves and moody beaches, the state of Washington is a paradise for people seeking unparalleled outdoor adventures. The Rialto Beach Trail in Olympic National Park provides remarkable views of the Pacific Ocean and natural landmarks unique to the Olympic coast. Near La Push, Washington, the Rialto Beach Trail is an easy-to-moderate trail that is around 13 miles long. While the trail is open year-round, the best time to visit is from April through October.

You'll have to swap out your sandals for hiking boots because the undeveloped shoreline of Rialto Beach mainly consists of volcanic pebbles and stone. Uprooted trees and driftwood are peppered throughout the shore, due to powerful Pacific waves and storm surges. While the rugged landscape may sound intimidating, the Rialto Beach Trail is an iconic trek that bolsters Washington's status as one of the best U.S. states for hiking. Lace up your hiking boots, pack camping supplies, and prepare yourself for a truly magical Pacific Northwest getaway.

The first stretch of the Rialto Beach Trail

The Rialto Beach Trail begins at the Rialto Beach parking area inside of the national park. A majority of the maritime hike is flat since you'll be following the shoreline, but there are some steep, rocky overland passages you'll encounter. Before venturing north down the trail, you can look to your south for a spectacular view of Gunsight Rock in the distance, an oceanic pillar that sits near James Island.

As you stroll along the trail, there will be towering sea stacks and offshore islands that pierce the horizon. You'll likely spot otters and seals if you look at the shoreline, as well as migrating gray whales during the summer months. The trail is also great for birdwatching, as brown pelicans and bald eagles frequent the area. About .8 miles into your trek, you will pass over Ellen Creek; this small body of water can be swift, so prepare to find a log that can help you cross (and for the possibility of your shoes getting a little wet).

Around one-and-a-half miles into your hike you will reach the Hole-in-the-Wall. This picturesque sea arch is known for its distinctive, swiss cheese-like appearance. The Hole-in-the-Wall is a sought-after location for exploring tidepools, allowing inquisitive visitors to get an up-close glimpse of the various fish species, colorful anemones, and other sea creatures that call these Pacific waters home.

Continuing your hike down the coastline

Reaching the Hole-in-the-Wall is considered the most popular leg of the Rialto Beach Trail. On average, this stretch of the Rialto Beach Trail only clocks in at about an hour round-trip, making for a perfect morning stroll at the Olympic National Park. From there, you can either make your way back to the trailhead or continue following the rugged coastline for a multi-night oceanic adventure. You'll tread tidal flats, pass by scenic coves, and be greeted by more stretches of remote beach that provide wildlife viewing and sightseeing opportunities. On the North end of Rialto Beach, towards the end of your trek, you can check out memorials that commemorate the lives of 36 individuals who perished in wrecks of Chilean and Norwegian vessels in the early 1900s.

There are a few precautions you should be aware of: It is absolutely crucial to carry a topographic map and to check the tide before you hike the Rialto Beach Trail — planning your route accordingly. Some passages and natural features, including the Hole-in-the-Wall, are only accessible during low tide. There are several established campsites along the Rialto Beach Trail, or you can obtain a Wilderness Camping Permit beforehand to sleep right along the beautiful beach. If you plan on camping along the coast, be sure to set up your tent above the high tide water line in a spot that does not disturb wildlife. Hikers who are explorers at heart shouldn't miss out on this coastal trail.