Hike O' The Month: Second Beach

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What: An easy hike along a splendid Pacific Ocean beach where access was restricted for several months while tribal issues with Olympic National Park were resolved.

Where: Follow Highways 104 and 101 through Port Angeles to Forks. Just before reaching Forks, turn right on the La Push Road and drive 12.8 miles to the trailhead on the left.

Length: 4.2 miles, round trip

Beginning elevation: 200 feet

Lowest elevation: sea level

Maps: USGS La Push; Custom Correct South Olympic Coast; and Green Trails La Push.

Notes: Though you're less than a mile from the ocean at the trailhead, the rain forest covers you like a sound umbrella and the rush and shift of the surf is barely audible. Vine maple, mosses, ferns, hemlock and Sitka spruce shaped by onshore winds huddle around the trail and shade the green winter light.

The trail drops on a moderate grade for a short distance before meandering along a forested bluff above the ocean. At about a half mile, wooden planks may make the walking a little less slippery as the trail drops to the north end of Second Beach.

This is the end of the marked trail and the beginning of a fine beach walk. A rocky bluff named Quateata stands sentinel to the north, identifiable by a high natural arch; the hike along the beach ends about 1.4 miles to the south at a headland near the base of Teahwhit Head.

Permits: None

More information: Olympic Park Wilderness Information Center, (360) 565-3100; www.nps.gov/olym/.

(For a guide to this and 69 other day hikes in the Olympics, read Day Hike! Olympic Peninsula, by Seabury Blair Jr., from Sasquatch Books.)

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