Due west of Mount Olympus is the coastal community of Quillayute, Washington and just a bit further towards the shore is La Push. Known best as being an outlying area of the only slightly more well-known Forks, Washington, La Push is where you will find a great spot for picking up many of the trailheads for the Pacific Northwest Trail System and a great place to launch on many of the day hikes offered in the area. Strawberry Point is one of the many coastal outcroppings that dot the wavy coastline of Washington’s Olympic peninsula.
The hike from Third Beach down to Strawberry Point is a great excursion that will get your feet wet with the Pacific Ocean and your eyes filled with wonder as you see some of the most extraordinary wildlife and nature scenes anywhere on any beach. Strawberry Point brings you right into the Quillayute Needled National Wildlife Refuge on the forested eastern side and on your western side, the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean and the multitude of sea stacks standing in defiance of the ocean waves pounding upon them for century after century.
The trail is considered a bit more adventurous that it looks, but don’t let the looks deceive you, anyone with a moderate sense of trail hounding will be capable of handling the small obstacles on this hike. Know the incoming and outgoing tides when you set out toward Strawberry Point, the trail brings you along the beach and while that is a spectacular trip, you will have to time it right or risk wet feet, which isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world is it?
To see a further breakdown of the Strawberry Point Trail, please visit the official page for the Washington Trails Association. Link to the relevant page on wta.org for the hike.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
The Strawberry Point hike is a common hike, most often lengthened to the Toleak Point outcropping, but Strawberry Point is just one outcropping short of the full Toleak hike. No matter where you end the hike, you’re going to begin at Third Beach, on the strip of Olympic National Park that sweeps around La Push and the Quileute Native American Reservation. This small population numbers under 400 individuals and are directly descended from a remaining tribe that survived the internal nations fighting that was squashed by the well-known Chief Seattle.
There is much speculation on the words of this popular Chief, but what is know by the Quileute is their traditions and language come from the Chimakum Peoples and their language still remains as one of only six known spoken languages in the world that contain no particular nasal sounds though as tribal member age out and pass on, the language is close to being considered extinct.
In the middle 2000’s a very popular fictional book series divided the nation’s youth between “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob”. Stephenie Meyer wrote the “Twilight” series of young adult romance novels with two main protagonists as a vampire and a werewolf. The werewolf Jacob character was the forlorn love interest of the main female protagonist and his mysterious shape-shifter origins was a part of the Quileute tribe from nearby La Push, Washington.
So when you travel to Forks, and then onward to La Push in order to begin your fun hike out to Strawberry Point, remain aware that there will be a lot of book and movie paraphernalia at each and every store along the way as “Team Twilight” is strong in this part of the wilderness.
GETTING TO THE TRAIL
Located out on the coastal region of the Washington Olympic peninsula, La Push is a beachside reservation where you will travel all the way up and into the peninsula to get to Strawberry Point. Luckily for directions, La Push is close to the Quillayute airport so it is one of those small towns that actually have presence on most map programs. All too often these small areas and diamond in the rough that go unnoticed because they have nothing nearby to distinguish them from other regions. The Quillayute airport is a small regional airfield, but is designated with the FAA as “UIL” and therefore easily identifiable on any map.
Headed into La Push from Port Angeles or other northern Peninsular locations is easy enough. Just get on the 101 and take it to Forks where you’ll turn on La Push Road and follow it all the way to the coast where you’ll see the Strawberry Point trailhead before you enter the reservation itself. Directions from the south and points beyond are similar as the 101 is a circular route through the Olympic peninsula and you’ll just take the 101 north into Forks and make the same turn off at La Push Road.
The trailhead is marked with several names, “Third Beach Trailhead”, or “Strawberry Bay Falls” but no matter what you all it, the forest will clear and as you’re driving west there will be a parking area clearing on your left. When you begin to encounter housing developments, you’ve entered La Push and gone too far. This small trailhead is about a half mile behind you.
PARK FACILITIES AND REGULATIONS
The Strawberry Point hike beginning at Third Beach is an exciting trail that will challenge your skills on a minimal level, but will still be a challenge when compared against the conventional placid hike. However, this is a primitive hiking trail and all the facilities are nominal at the best of times, and currently listed as “closed” while the current pandemic rages on. The facilities as rudimentary with pit toilets at the trailhead, but for now, closed until the National Forest Service begins maintenance on these outlying trailheads once again.
You will be hiking out from Third Beach to points beyond and the Pacific Northwest Trail is a well known hike that could go on far down the coast. If you are hiking out to Strawberry Point, the hike is an eleven mile in-and-out hike, well worth a day trip but you can obtain a wilderness camping permit if you want to make this a backpacking excursion that makes the most of the exciting terrain and enjoy the full sense of nature that Strawberry Point can bring you.
There are established camping sites along the route and you will encounter some of the wildlife along the route. The lack of open facilities is all the more reason you need to be an alert hiker and responsible trail hound that keeps to the code of packing your own gear in AND out of your journey. Since you’re in the northwest, known for dedication to the environment, consider doing your part in bringing along an extra net bag and pick up refuse left behind by other hikers that may have left some of their garbage behind. The facilities at La Push to Strawberry Point may be close,d but we can keep the trail clean for the next hiker.
NAVIGATING THE TRAIL
Strawberry Point is roughly a 4.7 mile hike from Third Beach making this hike just over nine miles in and out. The trail to Strawberry Point is mostly coastal and hinges on the conditions of the tides. Dense forest and underbrush greet you on the initial leg of your journey and once you get to the seaside parts of the trail, your hike may seem like it is at an end unless you are aware of the signs and markers indicating your trail route ahead of you. Strawberry Point lies ahead of you, all you have to do is follow the route.
From the beach, you’ll see markers pointing you to a rope ladder. Do not despair, this is an easy climb that you can make without the assistance of the rope. The ladder is there to help those of us who may have less hiking experience or mobility problems. Once you cross over Taylor Point campsite, you’ll walk the beachfront some more and climb back up into the bluff. A little waking along in the brush and you’ll come back to the beach at Scott Creek where there is another campsite and pit toilet for use if you need.
Pretty much from this point onward to Strawberry Point, you’ll be walking the beach itself. Keep your eyes open for seals and otters sunbathing on the sand and rocks as you make you way south. Stop a while at around the four mile mark where you can get a great view of the Giants Graveyard, some of the most impressive sea stacks Washington has to offer. Just south is the destination, Strawberry Point. The sea stack here is much easier to reach when the tide is out, though you’re likely to still get your feet wet. Make sure you do your exploring and return to shore before the tide rolls in or you’ll find yourself wet up to the knees!
Strawberry Point is a great hike along the coastline. It takes you up into the bluffs and strolling along the sand as well. The sea stacks are impressive and the marine-life is diverse. The Pacific Northwest trail offers lots of stopping points along the way. You can continue past Strawberry Point and go to Toleak Point, or if you find that once you leave Third Beach you want to turn back early before making it to Strawberry Point, the short walk along Taylor Point is good as well.
Being isolated on the Olympic peninsula, hiking this portion of the Olympic National Park gives you fewer casual hikers to encounter and more time to spend alone in nature along this gorgeous landscape. Strawberry Point is a fantastic point where you can look up and down the coast and see all the beauty and spectacular wonder that Washington’s pristine coastline has to offer.
Hike the trails, breathe in the air, and make sure you capture all the memories as the hike from Third Beach to Strawberry Point is one you won’t soon forget, and a hike that will challenge you just enough to make you aware that you have gone out and “earned” these sights you will see along the way.