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Port Angeles, Washington
November 5, 2002
A great long hike for those who are ambitious is to hike from Ruby Beach (get someone to drop you off) back to Kalaloch, approximately 7 miles. You will need to time this hike with the low tide, but you will be rewarded with seastacks, seacaves, seastars, and hopefully some wildlife. My friend Mike and I did this hike and saw a seal swimming in the surf and four bald eagles, one of which flew directly over our heads. The stretch between Ruby Beach and Beach 4 was especially scenic and peaceful. There are no beach access trails between the two, and we never saw another person.
Looking for more things to do around Kalaloch? I loved watching the families with their picnic lunches, building sandcastles and flying kites. Swimming is not recommended on the Washington coast, due to the very low temperature of the water (hypothermia sets in fast). But it is possible if you wear a wetsuit or drysuit. But beware of currents, and there are absolutely no lifeguards. You will definitely be swimming at your own risk. Another one of my favorite spots is the Kalaloch River Nature trail. It is directly across the highway from the Kalaloch campground. This 1-mile loop gives a great introduction to the rainforest, and I love the great boardwalk that winds around through the trees and moss. There is also a ranger-guided walk on this trail. This trail is a great place to escape if it is windy on the beach, or a bit rainy. The trees really shelter you and I always feel very protected back in this spot.
Finally, Kalaloch is a great "home base" for exploring other areas of Olympic National Park. It is about 1 hour to the end of the Queets road, 30 minutes to Amanda Park and the start of the the Quinault area, 1 hour to the end of the Hoh Road. These three areas are our three temperate rainforest valleys, and are the only rainforests in the lower 48 states. Also easily accessible from Kalaloch are the coastal stretches near Oil City, La Push, and Mora. If you thought Kalaloch was great, wait until you see these wilderness beaches! For more information, see Kalaloch Lodge.
As night falls at Kalaloch, be sure to catch sunset. I cannot even describe the beauty and variety of the sunsets at Kalaloch. You think you can tell what the sunset will be like that night, but it is common to be caught off-guard by some incredible sight that you did not expect. Some unreal color, or a strange cloud that moves in quickly and glows. After the sunset, see the ranger program at the campground ampitheater. Follow up with a nice campfire on the beach (you can collect and burn small pieces of driftwood). You will definitely become a beach snob after visiting this perfect wilderness coast.
From journal Going Local in Port Angeles, The Olympic Peninsula
Anyway, during the summer when I am not on fires in other states, I live and work at Kalaloch, one of the many areas of "wilderness coast" on the Olympic Peninsula. There are long strips of undeveloped coastline in Washington which are part of Olympic National Park. What a beautiful sight--no hotels, no condos, no motor boat tours! Nothing! Just glorious wild beaches combined with rocky headlands, tidepools, and drift logs of amazing size. The coastal stretch around Kalaloch is about 9 miles long, going from South Beach to Ruby Beach. In that whole area, there are 2 campgrounds (South Beach and Kalaloch), the Kalaloch Lodge/Cabins and Restaurant, a small store, a small Ranger Station and a bit of employee housing. That’s it. And if that isn’t solitude enough, add the fact that there is no cell phone coverage, television or radio reception. The perfect spot to "get away from it all"--don’t forget a good book! Get ready to relax.
You can access the widest and sandiest parts of the coast from the Kalaloch Lodge and campground. The beach gets a bit narrower as you head south, but for the most part is stays flat and sandy. Perfect for running--it is 5 miles to run from Kalaloch to South Beach and back, for all you runners out there. All along this stretch of coast are access trails--in addition to the campgrounds and lodge, you can park and take a short hike to Beach 1, 2, 3, 4, and Ruby Beach. Beach 1 and 2 are between Kalaloch and South Beach, so if you are going to walk or run south from Kalaloch, you can probably skip these access points.
Beach 4 is rich with rock outcrops--perfect for checking out tidepools. The ABSOLUTE best way to see this spot is with a Ranger on their daily guided tidepool walks at Beach 4. They happen every morning during the summer at low tide (check at Ranger Station for exact time). They are fun and educational, and really enrich the experience and give you what you need to know for exploring on your own. And Ruby Beach is a great place to explore--another "must see." Ruby Beach is the only area on this coastal stretch that has seastacks (more found farther north). The beach sand is also tinted pink, hence the name.
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