Hiking Cape Flattery and Shi Shi Beach

On August 29, after a day of experiencing Makah Days and some of the other wonders Neah Bay and the West End have to offer, I headed down the coast to find Cape Flattery and Shi Shi Beach. Upon arriving in Neah Bay, I had made sure to stop in at one of the local businesses and pick up a recreational parking pass for an affordable ten bucks. If you purchase the pass at the local gas station in town, they will also pitch in a handy map that show you directly how to get to all the near attractions: including Shi Shi, Cape Flattery and Hobuck Beach.

shi shi beach cape flattery sunset

I had heard and read multiple amazing brags on the quality of Cape Flattery sunsets. It was only a short trail down to the viewpoint, so I decided to do a double-dip and check out the scene in midday light and add a twilight peek on the way back in from Shi Shi Beach, to hopefully catch some of this wonder. Surprisingly, the plan actually came off pretty well!

Cape Flattery

I followed my GPS out of Neah Bay along the highway and had to stop for a bit to take in Hobuck. This beach right off the road is pretty stellar in and of its own right and accessible to boot. I believe at this point the beaches are considered a state highway and several happy campers had driven vehicles down on to the sand on the south side of the beachfront.

Cape Flattery

After getting a good eyeful from a rocky perch along the roadside, I wheeled down the road to the Cape Flattery turn off and on to my next viewpoint. The parking for the trailhead was backed up the road quite a ways. I drove down all the way just to check but it was filled; a whole bike club had loaded one of the RV spots with over 30 motorcycles! Way to be conscientious guys! I ended up looping back and parking along the side of the road less than a quarter mile from the parking lot.

I headed down the short trail: starting off with an oversized blue beach chair with Neah Bay, WA across the top for tourist photos. I made sure to get one for myself on the way back as you’ll see in my profile picture. On the way down there were several beautiful scenic opportunities on both sides of the trail. Although there were several large groups of people as well as individuals, there still seemed to be plenty of room to navigate and gain access to viewpoints, even if a little waiting was involved at times.

Cape Flattery

Shi Shi Beach Trailhead

After getting my fill of the midday cape scenery I headed down the road to the Shi Shi Trailhead. There are a couple of private parking areas that you can pay for via drop box. I parked at one of these and walked down the road another mile or so to the trailhead to find there was plenty of parking, so I would advise checking first. The Shi Shi Trail was pretty soggy and had some beautiful large trees. It had a decent amount of traffic although not nearly as busy as the Flattery Trail. I was limited on time because I wanted to get back to Cape Flattery for sunset pics but eventually I’d like to make an overnight trip here and get all the way out to The Arches.


The Arches

The Arches are a formation of sea pillars stringing out into the water lying about seven miles out from the trailhead. After a couple of miles on the trail, I was able to find an offshoot path toward the water leading to a rope climb down to a small, beautiful cove. It was occupied with a large encampment of fellow outdoorsmen enjoying the afternoon sun. Even if you don’t descend at this point, I would suggest taking in the view from the top of this access, you can see down the beach all the way to The Arches and it is magnificent!

I apologized to the campers for my intrusion, traipsing around the cove and climbing up atop the dividing rock jetty to get a full visual experience of the adjacent beach. After getting my fill of picture opportunities around the cove, I hauled myself up the cliff again, pausing periodically to take in the vivid layout below me. There were still lots of hikers tramping into the trailhead as I headed out for the evening to catch the peak sunset back at the cape.


My timing ended up being on point and I was able to piece together some pretty solid shots of the descending sun from the southern cliff side. By the time I made it to the cape point the sun was hidden by cloud cover on the horizon however and I was only able to grab a few noteworthy shots with the inhibited light. It got dark quickly after, and this trail enhanced with log rounds and wood walkways along with natural roots, can be a slick one.

I would definitely recommend packing in a light for the trip back if you come for the sundown. I had put in roughly 11 miles for the day, including my ramblings at Makah Days earlier. One of the most fulfilling trips I have made within this short of a distance I have to say. Looking forward to sharing my trip out to The Arches with you soon! I hope you can make time to enjoy these amazing places on your next trip out to the coast.

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Zac Blaylock

Zac was born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula. He enjoys nature and hiking and explores as often as he can. He also recently started dabbling in photography. Check out his Instagram feed @beasthawk777.


  1. Ralph Becker on November 3, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Since 1973, I have been to Shi Shi over 20 times, in summer sun, winter snow, and the heaviest rain I ever got soaked in. There was once a series of cabins, before the Park Service took over. I’ve seen deer and rabbits and whales and otters and porpoises, and swam in the ocean (only on a few very hot days). It’s beauty is rarely surpassed.

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