Shi Shi beAcH OvErnighT
Olympic National Park

TR #: 98

Category: Washington (Olympic Peninsula)        

Partner: Sue Abegg

Hiking with my mom is always special in itself, and the spectacular scenery and photo opportunities made this a great overnight adventure.

Overview of Shi Shi Beach

Shi Shi Beach is a 2-mile stretch of beach in Olympic National Park, on the northwest tip of Washington State. The beautiful beach is an amphitheater of pounding surf, sandy shoreline, giant driftwood logs, soaring eagles, washed up sea creatures, and so much more. At the south end of the beach is the scenic Point of the Arches, a mile-long cavalcade of sea stacks and natural arches. The beach is particularly amazing when you consider its location mere miles west of the glaciated peaks of the Olympic Mountain range.

Getting There
To get to the Shi-Shi Beach trailhead, take a road out of Neah Bay (see map below). This requires traveling through the Makah Indian Reservation. The first 2 miles is a trail is through Sitka spruce and boardwalks. From here, the only thing separating you from the spectacular 2-mile beach is a steep trail down a 150-foot bluff.

(A clip of the National Park map showing just the Shi Shi area. Click to enlarge)

Shi-Shi Beach is an easy and popular hike or overnight destination. Camping (and camp fires!) are allowed all along the beach above the tide line. There are two water sources: Petroleum Creek at 1.3 miles and Willoughby Creek at about 1.8 miles. There are 3 pit toilets in the trees along the beach (north end and at the 2 creeks). There are not restrictions on how many groups can camp; the disadvantage of this is that the beach can often be quite crowded in the summer months, but the advantage of this is that camping reservations are not needed in advance. The entire beach is accessible at high tide, but it's a good idea to have a tide chart if going beyond Shi-Shi Beach.

There are some fees and permits required in order to hike or camp at Shi Shi Beach. But it is worth it. Four things you will need to take care of on your way to the trailhead:
  1. National Park Backcountry camping permit (obtain in person at Wilderness Information Center (WIC) in Port Angeles or at the Forks Recreation and Information Center; cost: $5 + $2 per person per day)
  2. (I can't recall if you also need need a National Park Pass or Annual Park Pass in addition to the Backcountry permit. National Park Passes ($80) are good for a year at any National Park, while Annual Park Passes ($20) are valid for only Olympic National Park.)
  3. Bear Canister (can pick this up at the same place as the Wilderness permit; cost: by donation)
  4. Makah Recreation Pass (must be purchased at the Washburn general store in Neah Bay prior to arriving at the trailhead; cost: $10)
  5. Overnight parking is not allowed at the trailhead; park at designated lots within a mile before the trailhead (cost: $10 per day)

Photos from my overnight hike to Shi-Shi Beach

A timelapse from my overnight to Shi-Shi Beach

I also had fun making a timelapse of evening around the beachwood campfire. At
timelapse speed, the wood appears to melt rather than burn. (If you like this timelapse, or want to read more about how I make them, click here to go to my timelapse webpage.)

Campfire on beach.
Length of video: 31.4 sec
Real time: 40 min
Number of frames: 471
Interval between photos: 5 sec
Frame speed of video: 15 frames/sec
Timelapse speed: 75x real time