After getting off the Edmonds Ferry we began the long trip to Shi Shi Beach. Snaking our way along the Strait of Juan de Fuca for more than three hours. Winding through scores of towering conifers, winding roads and small costal fishing and logging towns. Nearing the most Northwest point in the United States is the tiny town of Neah Bay.
After a quick stop at the Makah Mini Mart in the small village of Neah Bay to get our tribal land permits we were on our way South-West out of the tiny town of Neah Bay and onto the Pacific coast.
A short drive later we arrived at our destination, which was the front yard of a local resident. A single post painted maroon with a small light on top our only marker of the parking space. This front yard is home to about eight parking places for those that hike to Shi Shi Beach. The trailhead does not allow overnight parking. From where we parked the car to the trailhead is about a mile walk up a well-maintained paved road.
The trail starts out wandering through widely spaced trees, surrounded by piles of pine needles, and other organic deposits. Further in you walk along man made wood plank walkways that keep you from crossing boggy ground. This leads you over a couple of bridges that lead you to a meandering trail that hugs the coast but keeps it just out of view. This part of the trail has many areas that are large mud pits and have been strewn with various down trees, logs and other items to help cross the mud that is sometimes more than a foot deep.
The end of this trail leads you to a sharp decent of nearly two or three hundred feet dropping you to beach elevation. The decent is so steep that in places ropes have been anchored to trees to assist getting up and down. At the bottom there are a few campsites strewn with various trash and campfire pits that have large stacks of driftwood stacked neatly next to them. These campsites sit just inside the tree line. From here it’s just its less than 50 yards onto the sandy coastline.
We weren’t the first people on the beach. There were already a small group who were already setup just outside the tree line to the beach and were cracking beers and chit chatting. We walked past headed South to our destination just another mile or so down the beach towards the Point of Arches. This area is close to a small stream runs a brown tinted water that is rich in tannins. Despite it’s brown color it can be used for drinking as long as it’s filtered and boiled.
We setup our campsite just off the beach in an already well-established site that included some seating built from various pieces of wood collected from the beach. A rock wall fire pit sat at the center of the seating. A scavenged chunk of countertop was propped between logs and provided a great place to cook.
The landscape is a mix of rock formations jutting from the water’s surface capped with green growth and birds perched atop. The beach itself is a mix of sand and small rock and is strewn heavily with driftwood, organic materials, and man made plastics and nets likely from commercial vessels.
We spent the next day searching around the tide pools and rocky areas around the Point of Arches. Between high and low tide there is a difference of more then one hundred yards of beach. This leaves behind all sorts of wildlife.
The weather didn’t cooperate the rest of the day, so the rest of the day was spend under a tarp playing cards, eating, drinking, and smoking cigars.
The final day started out with drizzle and we packed up our gear and headed back off the beach. We stayed pretty dry until we got back to the mile stretch of road heading back to the car. Mother nature decided to unleash at this point and without and gear to keep us dry we got a healthy soaking. Once back at the car we quickly broke down the packs and jumped in the car soaking wet and smelling of wood smoke. I’m not sure I have ever been so happy to sit down in my car.
All in all it was a fun trip to one of my favorite places in the Northwest, and as always I can’t wait to go back.