6 Best Trails to Explore on the Pacific Coast of USA

Pack your backpacks, strap up those trekking boots and let’s hit the track! The Pacific Coast of the U.S possesses some of the most diverse and stunningly beautiful scenery in the world. From soaring red woods, to dynamic seascapes and everything in between, this rugged coastline holds many secrets that only a lucky few are privy to. It’s time to break the work-eat-sleep cycle and truly immerse yourself in nature. Join us, to explore the 6 best trails to explore on the Pacific Coast USA.

1. Shi Shi Beach, WASHINGTON

Shi Shi (pronounced “shy shy”), is a Makah word meaning “surf beach”. This stunningly rugged coastline is a part of the Olympic National Park. In 1894, prospectors discovered gold in the sand along the Olympic Coast, so you might get lucky! The park is famous for its dense and lush rainforests, glacial mountains and America’s largest herd of Roosevelt Elks. On warm Summer days, the beach usually draws a plethora of campers and beach goers.

Dotted with large pointed rocks that seem to rise out of the water, this beach has a personality of its own. Arrive at dawn for a mystical fog, or at dusk for a breath-taking sunset with every color of the rainbow. This trail will spoil hikers with an abundance of sights, including a Sitka spruce forest, sand dunes, tide pools and soaring sea stacks. After 5 miles, you’ll feel refreshed and truly disconnected from the stresses of modern life.

How to get there

Park at the trailhead, at the end of Sooes Beach Road, about 70 miles out of Port Angeles, Washington. Hikers need a Makah recreation pass to park at the trailhead.

For more trail information, click here makah.com or here. nps.gov/olym/

2. Ecola State Park, OREGON

This stunningly preserved state park encompasses the true definition of remote. This hike is 6 miles of cliffs, secret beaches, lush forests and breath-taking seascapes. The trail starts at Ecola Point and weaves past the towering Seal Rock, before passing the moss-draped WWII bunker, that housed a radar installation during the war. Stranded on a tiny island out to sea, you’ll see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Watch as the waves crash and pound against this stubborn little lighthouse, that guards the dangerous coastline. Monday will be particularly difficult after conquering this trail over the weekend.

How to get there

From Seaside, Oregon follow the signs to Ecola State Park. Drive five miles to the entrance booth, a day pass is $5.

For more information, click here oregonstateparks.org

3. Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor, OREGON

Positioned on the south Oregon coast, this challenging 12-mile hike showcases every divine aspect of Mother Nature. The park was established in the 50’s, named after Samuel H. Boardman. Boardman was regarded as the “father” of Oregon’s state park system, and was bestowed this honor on the eve of his retirement. This brilliant trail contains everything from natural bridges, to canyons, and stretches from northern Arch Rock to Cape Ferrelo in the south. Don’t miss Whaleshead Viewpoint and Beach. This incredible vista offers views of the massive rock formations in the ocean, and the sandy beach down below. A steep trail at the viewpoint leads down to the beach.

Your highlight will inevitably be crossing the Thomas Creek Bridge, at 105m it’s the highest in the state. Don’t forget your camera, this trail will have you reaching for it at every twist and turn, #nofilterrequired.

How to get there

The trailhead is about 20 miles from the town of Gold Beach, Oregon. You’ll start at the Arch Rock picnic area.
For more information, click here oregonstateparks.org

4. Redwood National Park, CALIFORNIA

This trail is for the nature seekers. Along the north California coast, sits this oasis. Lined with towering, ancient Redwood trees, you will find some of the tallest trees on earth on this glorious trail. Your camera probably won’t be able to capture the enormity of these giants, so perhaps reserve the “Instagram shot” for the enormous tree base. A visit to the Tall Trees Grove is a must, where you can see the gigantic Libbey tree. You will feel small and insignificant in its awe-inspiring presence.

Don’t forget to stop at Klamath River Overlook, where the freshwater river meets the Pacific Ocean at a huge estuary. This overlook point is a prime spot for watching migrating whales. Another incredible panorama is the picnic area at High Bluff Overlook. You can scan the sea for whales, sea lions, brown pelicans, and, in spring and summer, thousands of seabirds nesting on offshore rocks. Being dwarfed by these ancient trees truly reminds you how important nature is. These trees have seen everything, and have stood tall throughout history.

How to get there

Start at the Redwood information centre, about 40 miles from Crescent City, California.

For more information, click here nps.gov/redw

5. The Lost Coast, CALIFORNIA

The Lost Coast is located in the King Range National Conservation area, which encompasses 60,000 acres along 35 miles of coastline. The 16 mile trail is famous for the unique black sandy beaches, so skip from rock to rock along the beach and breathe in that delightful sea air. A wall of mountains rising to more than 1,200m is directly behind you, so get those thighs pumping! Various trails lead eventually to the Lost Coast Trail, which follows the ocean.

A highlight of the journey will undoubtedly be the half mile walk through the ancient redwood trees. This area is as harsh and raw as it is beautiful, so come prepared. Signs along the trail warn of bears, unpredictable ocean tides and waves, and ever changing weather patterns. These warnings however should not deter you from this coastline, simply be aware of the dangers and come ready to “get lost”. This area is quite a distance from the main highway, it’s well and truly ‘off the beaten track’ and during the Winter months, you may just find yourself alone on the trails. You’ll be dreaming of The Lost Coast long into the 9 to 5 working week.

How to get there

Make sure you grab a free backcountry permit. The trailhead is about 80 miles south of Eureka, the parking lot is on Lighthouse Road. Be prepared for a long, winding, narrow road.

6. Point Reyes National Seashore, CALIFORNIA

Point Reyes stretches out towards the sea, jutting out from the coastline. This rugged seascape contains a myriad of trails and landscapes. The road on the drive in is enough to get your excitement pumping, with beautiful trees forming a lush canopy over the road. Take your pick of trails, zigzagging through fields and forests. Depending on the tide, you can get some incredible photos of an abandoned boat on the shoreline. Don’t forget the Point Reyes Lighthouse, a small collection of buildings at the end of a long road, right at the tip of the point.

A highlight of the trail will naturally be the waterfall, cascading from the high cliffs, all the way down to the beach below. With over 1500 different plants and animals species to discover, you can spend all day exploring. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some harbor seals gazing up towards you. Before you go, visit the website below. It has a brilliant webcam of the point, informing you if it’s sunny or if fog will impede your view.

How to get there

Located just north of San Francisco, you can start at the Bear Valley visitor centre, which is about 25 miles southwest of Petaluma, California. They offer guided tours of the park.

 For more information, click here nps.gov/pore/index.htm

Author: Michelle Hyde

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  1. Jerry says

    I love Point Reyes!