Backpack to Chilean Memorial

Rate this Adventure 4 miles 50 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Wells Preston

Great beach camping, with secluded campsites, tide pools and beautiful ocean scenery. See seastacks, bald eagles, seals and sea otters...campfires are allowed as well (driftwood only).

Backpacking on the Olympic Coast is an awesome way to spend a weekend. The scenery is rugged and wild. Many groups stop at the first camping areas available, but if you want less people and more scenery, keep going. Seals, Bald Eagles, Sea Otters, and other wildlife are common further up the beach.

These are the trip notes to go several miles (approximately 4) up the beach, to an area known as Chilean Memorial. To get there you will walk through Hole-In-The-Wall and then round 3 distinct headlands. This hike can be done as a long day trip, but if you stretch it over a weekend into a 1 or 2 night trip, it is well worth it.

While planning this trip, please check a tide chart for Rialto Beach for your specific dates. You will be rounding 4 headlands; 3 of which can only be rounded at mid to low tide. Trying to round them at high tide is dangerous due to surf. Plan your trip so you are hiking as the tide is heading out, that way you're not racing against the sea on your way up the beach. Please account for the tide on your way back as well.

Before you get to the beach, you need to register and pay the backcountry fee at the Mora Ranger Station, on the road before Rialto beach. Please note that the rangers frequently do not have change, so bring a few different denominations or your checkbook. The ranger station has paper tide charts. Grab one: your phone may have already lost service at this point. They will check that you brought a bear canister for food as well.

Once you are at the beach, load up and start hiking north. About a mile up the beach, you will cross Caroline Creek, north of which camping is allowed. You will see tents and other backpackers already stopped and setup here. Don't be lured into stopping. Keep hiking, better bays await.

The first headland you will encounter is called Hole-in-The Wall, named for the large hole that can you cross through at low tide. Be careful on all rocks, as they can be slick. If the tide is too high to cross through the hole, you can go up and over the headland via a trail to the right.

Continue hiking north. Make sure you walk out on the rocks a bit, there are hundreds of tide pools filled with starfish, urchins, mussels, fish, and sea anemones. Many of the seastacks further up the beach are accessible at low tide as well.

The next 3 headlands involve a bit of rock hopping and scrambling to navigate around. Watch your step. Many rocks which don't appear slippery turn out to be once you transfer your weight to them.

After rounding the 3 headlands and walking approximately 2 miles from Hole-in-The-Wall, you've arrived at Chilean Memorial. It is the bay after the 4th headland. There is a privy here as well as several streams which run down to the beach, providing easy access to drinking water. The privy is open air and has a spectacular view of the Pacific from slightly up the bluff. Many people will go their whole lives without answering nature's call with such an amazing view.

Make sure you set up camp above the tideline. Build a fire out of driftwood, settle in for a beautiful sunset, and a relaxing night. The stars here are magnificent.

Pro tips:

  1. If you bring a can beer or two or twelve, also bring a mesh bag and some rope. Tie one end of the rope to a properly sized anchor rock and the other to the mesh bag, next fill the mesh bag with beer. Set it out in the shallows and use the Pacific as your refrigerator. Please keep an eye on it though, the tide rises fast and I don't want you to lose your beer or create trash. Make sure you bring it in at night.

  2. Bring an extra trash bag or two. Pack out any trash you see, that you can handle carrying back. There is still some floatsam and debris being found from the Japanese earthquake in 2011. Let's keep the Olympic Coast wild and clean.

  3. Even if the night is warm, put the rain fly on your tent before you sleep; the mist from the surf coats everything by morning.

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