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Olympic Peninsula Noobies, Part 5

Post by News Tribune Staff on Sep. 17, 2008 at 10:09 pm with No Comments »
September 17, 2008 10:09 pm

Wednesday we hit Neah Bay, Cape Flattery and Shi Shi Beach.

Neah Bay was our staging point. In order to visit the attractions on the Makah reservation you have to purchase a $10 recreation pass, and we got ours from Washburn’s store in town. Just go through one of the checkout lines and ask for one.

We stopped for a few minutes to pay our respects at the Diah Veterans Park – Fort Nuñez Gaona historical monument, which opened May 17. It’s a tribute to both the late 1700s Spanish military settlement (and its relationship to the Makah tribe) and the tribe members who have served in the United States military.

We also tried our best to snap a photo of Vancouver Island, but the fog (and marked amateurism) hampered us.

After that, it was about a 20-minute drive along a winding road to the Cape Flattery trailhead. Our guide book, “Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula,” published in 2007, indicated we would spend about the last five miles on a gravel road, but the entire way is paved now.

We got the feeling this trail was made for us. It’s a short hike (less than a mile round trip) to an amazing payoff. Several viewpoint balconies are perched precariously on the edges and at the end of this high peninsula. If you don’t like heights, stay away. Every gust of wind feels as though it might whisk you off a cliff, and you can feel the bigger waves reverberate. The final viewing platform is on the very tip of the peninsula, the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States.

Here’s the view to the south from one of the platforms along the trail:

Here’s the view to the south from the platform at the trail’s end:

Here’s the view to the north:

And here’s the view straight ahead, toward Tatoosh Island:

And a closer look at the island lighthouse:

It’s another half-hour drive to the Shi Shi Beach trailhead to the south. We’d heard such wonderful things about the eight-mile hike along Shi Shi to Point of the Arches and back, but somehow the initial (and VERY muddy) two-mile hike through the forest never came up. Neither did the ridiculously dangerous descent down the side of a cliff at the end of that two-mile forest hike. Seriously, this place needs an elevator, stat!

Regardless of the difficulty, we’ll definitely head back to Shi Shi on our next trip around the loop. We got there too late in the day to do the full hike (and climb) and still get back through the forest before dark. I did get this shot from one of the overlook points just before the big descent. It’s a look south toward Point of the Arches.

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