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July 01, 2016

Olympic Peninsula–North Coast

After leaving Mt Rainier and a dash thru the cities of Puyallup and Tacoma, we crossed the Tacoma Narrows easily, but had to wait for a tanker to pass at the Hood Canal Floating Bridge.  This has to be the slowest draw(bridge) in the west!
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We’re following a loop behind others that have blogged about this awesome wilderness known as the Olympic National Forest.  I’ll give credit to a few of those who I’ve followed as you will want to do your own trip planning:
    Several posts by Lynn from Tales from the Mutiny to follow backwards
    Suzanne from Take to the Highway always offers a great travel guide
    Lisa from Metamorphosis Road had a month to enjoy the variety

This is our story of a week on the Olympic Peninsula.
We settled into a great spot in Heart O’ the Hills Campground on Hurricane Ridge Road.  Not just a good site, but the campground has an ample supply of potable water to fill our empty tank. 
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Hurricane Ridge itself should not be missed!  The views are endless, like scenes from the mountains in the Sound of Music.  We are still a bit early in the season, with some trails still covered in snow, but did find a nice (short) hike by combining a couple trails near the Visitor Center.  There are awe inspiring views from the trail and a plentiful population of deer to pose for photos, altho this fawn was a bit camera shy.  And there is skiing for the winter enthusiast.
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Unless you are wanting to hike Cape Flattery or Shi Shi Beach (shy’ shy’ beach) there’s not much reason to go to Neah Bay.  But we wanted to do both and get some laundry done at Makah ($10 permit is required).

WA-112 into Neah Bay is filled with great views, but since there is no day-use fee at Salt Creek it is an obvious lunch stop.  A short hike to Tongue Point offers classic views of the sea stack at Crescent Beach.
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Another option is to drop down to Pillar Point with its beach front parking.
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Cape Flattery is the northwest (north-wet) corner of the contiguous United States, on the Makah Reservation.  A $10 Recreation  Pass is required for use of the reservation and its trails, which is available many places in Neah Bay including the excellent Makah Museum entering town.  The trail is well maintained by the Makah hosts.  They even have hiking sticks to use, or buy for a $5 donation.

The trail offers four viewpoints with benches (what I would call mosquito feeding stations, but none were out on this morning).  The short 1 mile trail leads to an awesome overlook.  With a great view on a clear day of the lighthouse on Tatoosh Island.
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Shi Shi Beach was named ‘Most Scenic Beach’ in America by the Discovery Channel a few years ago.  There is limited parking at the Shi Shi Beach trailhead, but we were early enough to park along the edge of the little spot.  The trail varies from well maintained to mud over the 2 mile distance to the beach.  From the beach another couple miles would include Point of Arches, which we did not do this time.

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Altho behaved pets on leash are allowed on the trails on the reservation the last hundred yards are a steep drop onto the National Park property that does not allow pets.   Not unlike the cables on halfdome, ropes are provided to assist the less nimble hiker with assending, or decending the bluff.
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Campground Reviews:
Heart O’ the Hills – Awesome location on Hurrican Ridge Road!  Smallish sites with good separation.  Offers flush restrooms, potable water – no showers nor dump station.  Good Verizon cell signal.  We’ll be back!

Cape Resort – Neah Bay – I’d avoid it next trip in this area.  However, it did meet our needs with good showers, laundry, FHU and in town.  But at $40 it is overpriced and does not offer usable WiFi.

Next – Lake Ozette as we begin the west side of the peninsula.
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