The coast with the most beckons The West End is known for its accessibility to ruggedly beautiful beaches. Close to La Push are scenic Second Beach and Third Beach. Both involve short hikes through forest but are worth the effort as you are rewarded with long stretches of sandy beach. Sea stacks decorate the landscape and provide inspiration to snap a photograph or two. When the tide is out be sure to carefully peek around the edges of rocks and sea stacks for a glimpse at tide pools to see what lives in the Pacific Ocean. Ruby Beach, about 35 miles south of Forks, is one of easiest-to-reach scenic beaches in the state. It offers craggy sea stacks, flat sand and a small stream that flows through it at the base of the short trail from the parking lot. Ruby Beach was named because it contains red sand. This reddish color is caused by the concentration of small “almandite” crystals, a type of red garnet, which is a different mineral from the precious stone known as ruby. According to the state Department of Natural Resources Geology and Earth Resources Division, the garnet sand grains were originally individual dodecahedron (12-sided) crystals, but most of them have been abraded to a nearly spherical shape. This mineral is relatively heavy and tends to become concentrated in patches by wave action. Beaches in the Kalaloch strip of coastline are easy walks from car to shore. The beaches are numbered 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
Home of the Quileute La Push is a wonderful place to stretch your legs after making the journey to the coast. The town is the home of the Quileute tribe and offers beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. You can stroll to First Beach to watch surfers catch a wave or simply to watch seabirds soar above James Island (the island is called a-ka-lat in the Quileute language, which translates to the “top of the rock”). The island, located at the mouth of the Quillayute River, is sacred to tribal members. Throughout the years, the island has been used to spot whales and was a burial spot for Quileute chiefs. Public access to the island is not permitted. First Beach is one of the main spots to watch for gray whales as they migrate along the coast. The beach also is an ideal location to watch tribal fishermen return after a long day on the water. A short stroll to the Quileute Harbor Marina will allow you to see them unload their catches and to view colorful stacks of crab pots, nets and coolers. Keep your eyes open for brown pelicans, which often fish in the river.
138 OLYMPIC PENINSULA VISITORS GUIDE • SUMMER 2018
Counterclockwise from top: A stroll to Second Beach provides access to the wild Pacific Ocean. Massive trees decorate the landscape of the rugged West End. Boats in Quileute Harbor Marina return after a long day of fishing. Tree stump carvings can be found at the Forks Timber Museum and Loggers Memorial.