When visiting Forks and La Push, a trek to the Pacific coast is a must. Consider a beach less traveled especially from September through May. Third Beach will nourish your need for water, wildlife and eye-popping views, and provide some much-deserved R and R for the mind and body.
The mostly flat, 1.5-mile walk through coastal forest and along the beach is easy to navigate and well maintained. Let your imagination run wild as you wander through second- growth forest, site of the “21 Blow,” the epic 1921 wind storm flattened 8 billion board feet of timber.
Take in views of the Pacific Ocean and dramatic sea stacks. Bring your binoculars to scan the abundant bird life, including bald eagles. You’re likely to spot playful seals in action, and you’ll get a big payoff in March, April and October during whale migration.
At the end of your sandy stroll, soak up Strawberry Bay Falls. This dramatic horsetail cascade tumbles more than 100 feet to the rocks and surf below. Best viewing is typically November through May when the watershed is full. Take note of the natural conglomerate rocks, a matrix of pebbles embedded and cemented together. Take care when exploring, avoid the area during high tide and resist crossing over the rocks at the base of the falls.
If you want more than just a hike, plan to stay the night. Gather driftwood and build a crackling fire, watch the sun make a dramatic dip into the Pacific Ocean and breathe in the fresh, salt air. Tent camping is an awesome way to experience this wild coast, and there’s nothing quite like hearing the rush of ocean waves from an oceanside abode. There are a few forested spots, but most camp sites are on the beach above high tide. While lower beach camping is allowed, unwelcome waves make for a soggy wakeup call.
Camp sites can be hard to come by during summer months. Permits and reservations can be obtained at the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles or the Pacific Ranger Station on the south shore of Lake Quinault. Ask about food storage when you’re there. While visiting Third Beach, you’re required to store all food and smelly items in a bear canister. (Don’t be alarmed. It’s mostly to deter the stealthy raccoons that can easily open normal food containers.)