Washington's Pacific beaches don't get much more dramatic than Second Beach. This is arguably the most beautiful beach in the state and is home to hiking trails, stunning cliffside views, and a myriad of marine life. It's also home to campgrounds that bring travelers from all along the Pacific Coast just to experience its natural beauty.
After all, who wouldn't want to wake up to a landscape that looks as seemingly otherworldly as this? With enormous rocks that appear to rise out of the ocean with no explanation, coupled with tide pools teeming with life and larger-than-life pieces of driftwood, it's the perfect place to spend a weekend exploring. And for many campers, this is exactly what one should be doing when spending the night at Second Beach. Its name might imply that there was a first but when it comes to the best Washington beach to camp at, this coastline has it all.
How To Get To Second Beach, Starting From Seattle
For starters, Second Beach is about four hours outside of Seattle which does make it quite a day drive for those who aren't staying nearby. With that being said, it's still well worth it just for the experience alone. This remote, secluded section of the coastline is truly breathtaking, especially for campers who can time their visit with Washington's finicky weather. However, a little rain or fog shouldn't stop anyone - this beach is even more mysterious and dramatic when the sun isn't shining.
From Seattle, one can opt to take the Seattle to Bainbridge ferry which is almost half the amount of miles one will cover with the second route, sans ferry. This route also includes Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge, if those stops are of interest. The second route is a straight-through drive from Seattle all the way through Tacoma and Olympia before eventually reaching Forks, adding about 20 minutes and ~80 miles to the journey.
Once You've Arrived, Here's How To Find Second Beach
Arriving at Second Beach does not automatically give visitors a clear path to its shores. Rather, it takes some hiking and hoofing it before eventually finding oneself on its dramatic shoreline. However, this makes sense considering it is part of Olympic National Park, so a short hike should be expected. This is also what makes the beach itself feel so secluded despite the fact that it's well-known as one of Washington's most beautiful beaches.
The Washington Trails Association includes a detailed guide on how to find Second Beach, which isn't as complicated as it seems. Just outside of La Push, visitors will find a parking lot where they can start their journey. If this lot is full, there is another lot just to the east which can also be used in the event that parking is scarce. Hikers should start due west from the parking lot and head down to a hurricane fence, past the entry point for the Lonesome Creek Hatchery. Continuing on, hikers will soon pass a kiosk that is likely covered in moss, which will bring them to a creek that needs to be crossed before a brief ascent will take them back up the same trail.
For 0.3 miles, the trail continues and becomes more defined, making it much easier to follow. At the end of the trail, wooden stairs will bring hikers to a switchback in the route that eventually guides them down to the sands of Second Beach.
- Total Distance: 0.7 miles
- Difficulty: Easy
Despite the tradition, visitors to Second Beach should avoid adding items to the 'cabinet tree' that they'll need to skirt around before heading down to the shore. Not doing so will break the 'Leave No Trace' law.
What To Know About Camping At Second Beach
Those visiting Second Beach with the intention of camping there will be happy to know that the process is fairly easy. All campers need to do is obtain a permit and a reservation, which can be done through the Government Recreation website. Here, campers can also check the availability and go over the guidelines specific to Second Beach, as well as find access to their accounts from which to print their permits.
Permits are issued by staff within 5-7 days before the start of a camper's reservation date.
Those looking to book early should know that reservations become available six months beforehand. From June through October, interested parties can also book reservations for Seven Lake Basin/High Divide, Glacier Meadows/Elk Lake, Grand Valley, Royal Basin, Lake Constance, Upper Lena Lake, and Flapjack Lakes.