Cape Alava Trail, Ozette Coast Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Cape Alava Trail - 6.5 miles
Ozette Coast Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||6.5 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||27' - 0' (253' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||-27' net elevation loss (+517' roundtrip elevation gain)|
Cape Alava Trail - 6.5 Miles Round-Trip
The Cape Alava Trail begins at Ozette Lake Trailhead in Olympic National Park. It runs 3.3 miles over slippery boardwalks to the beach, passing through coastal woodlands and prairies created by the Ahlstroms and Rooses families in the late 1800s.
The Ozette Indian Village excavation site is located .5 miles north of the beach access point. In the mid 1960s archeologists discovered bone, shell, and stone artifacts on the sheltered side of Cape Alava that dated back 2,000 years.
In 1970 a storm surge exposed 300-year old longhouses which had been buried by mudslides. Three of five longhouses were fully unearthed and over 50,000 artifacts recovered since. These finds helped blueprint the Makah Tribe's highly organized hunting and gathering society over the millennia.
While the discovery site has since been re-vegetated and closed to the public, you can learn more at the Makah Museum in Neah Bay:
The trail passes information boards and a seasonal ranger station to the Sand Point - Cape Alava Trail split (.2 miles : 68'). It moves quickly under hemlock, cedar, and sitka stands to a bridge (1.2 miles : 47'), where grades steepen into drier forests on top of a coastal hill (1.65 miles).
The trail climbs steadily to a crest with northerly views across Ahlstroms Prairie (2.5 miles : 245') before tilting down through uniformly tall hemlock the coast (3.25 miles).
Cannonball Island and Ozette Island stand prominently just off shore among scores of sea stacks. A wave break 200 yards out keeps the surf light, creating ideal tide pooling conditions at low tide.
Continue south on the beach to a headland marked by a red-black circular symbol; just right of this point are the Wedding Rocks petroglyphs carved by the Makah Tribe centuries ago. The rocks are named in part for their suggestive nature, but also include images of marine life.
- N48 09.271 W124 40.135 — 0.0 miles : Ozette Coast Trailhead
- N48 09.145 W124 40.319 — .2 miles : Sand Point Trail split
- N48 09.215 W124 41.579 — 1.2 miles : Cross bridge
- N48 09.431 W124 42.772 — 2.2 miles : Steep climb moderates thru prairie
- N48 09.645 W124 43.901 — 3.3 miles : Cape Alava - Wedding Rocks Beac
- You may continue 3 miles south on the beach to the Sand Point Trail, which leads back to the Ozette Coast Trailhead to form a 9.2 mile loop. Though elevation gain is minimal, two challenging headland climbs and obstacles on the beach make this a moderately strenuous, athletically demanding route.
- Bald eagles are active in the Cape Alava area.
- Grey whales can be seen off the coast in late spring and summer on their migration to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea. Harbor seals are year-round residents of the Olympic Coast.
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.
- Quotas and Reservations are in effect May 1 - September 30 for the Ozette Coast. 50% of sites can be reserved in advance. The other 50% is available first come, first served from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance.
- Permits for quota areas must be picked up at the WIC, or a staffed ranger station during business hours.
- There's a $5 registration fee per group, plus $2 per person (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time. Self-registration trailheads have forms, permits, and submission boxes.
- Reservations may be made no more than 30 days in advance. Groups of 7-12 people must camp in designated group sites within quota areas.
- Camping is permitted only in designated sites within quota areas. Campsites are not individually assigned, but are available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis.
- Deviation from your permit itinerary is not allowed in quota areas, except in emergencies. In other areas, permits are not limited.
- Campfires are prohibited between the headland north of Yellow Banks to the headland at Wedding Rocks. This includes Sand Point.
- Food Storage and Bear Canisters: All food and scented items must be secured 24 hours a day. Hard-sided canisters are required all along the coast.
- Ozette Campground
- The Ozette Campground has 15 sites available on a first come, first served basis. Fees range $12-18 per night. Campgrounds can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 21'.
- All sites have a picnic table and fire pit. Park campgrounds do not have hook-ups or showers. Amenities vary; refer to the NPS website for specific grounds information.
- 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 $15 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($30 annual pass).
- It's illegal to touch, move, remove, or enter archeological objects and structures. Respect Ozette Indian Reservation boundaries north of Cape Alava.
- Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Ozette Coast Trailhead is located 69.3 miles from the US 101 - Highway 112 intersection (just west of Port Angeles).
Drive west from Port Angeles on US 101 to Highway 112. Take 112 north 37.8 miles to to the Highway 113 - Highway 112 split. Continue 10.5 miles on Highway 112 to Hoko Ozette Road (just outside the town of Sekiu). Bear left on Hoko Ozette Road and drive 21 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road.
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)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office