Toleak Point is a classic hike of Washington along the coast of Olympic National Park and should be added to every backpacker’s list of future hikes. Through lush forest, along magical coastline, and past eye catching tide pools, hikers will explore all that the Olympic Coast has to offer.
I suggest hiking this classic hike as a backcountry trip over the course of several days. There are multiple ways people will complete this backpacking trip.
- Begin at Third Beach, End at Oil City Trail (17 miles Total)
- Begin and End at Third Beach (mileage varies, minimum 12 miles if stopping at Toleak Point)
- Build your own route starting at Third Beach or Oil City Trail
I completed this trip beginning and ending at the Third Beach Trailhead but would love to go back and complete the trail the way it was intended to be completed, starting at Third Beach and ending at Oil City.
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Table of Contents
Map of Toleak Point
Toleak Point is located on the ancestral lands of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla and Quileute tribes. We are grateful for the stewards of this land past and present. We are honored to be and recognize that we are guests on this land.
Region: Olympic National Park
Distance: 17.0 miles one-way
Elevation Gain: 2,000ft gain
When to go: Year-Round
Pass/Permit?: National Park Pass & Backcountry permit
Dogs Allowed?: No
Getting to the Toleak Point Trailhead
Olympic National Park has some of the most diverse terrain and is located on the Washington Peninsula. It is also a considerable pain in the buns to get out there. Located four hours from Seattle including the use of the Washington Ferry System, it is a time consuming process to get to the trailhead.
When I completed this hike, I stayed in Port Angeles, WA the night before in what I could only describe as a Sea Shore Shack. There are a couple of options for camping or staying in a hotel the night before to avoid spending a lengthy morning in a car before hiking.
There is a decent sized parking lot at the Third Beach Trailhead off of La Push Road. There are bathroom facilities located there as well as some informational signage about the area.
Permits for Toleak Point
The fees that go into backpacking to Toleak Point include the park pass, reservation fee, and use fee.
The hike is located within the borders of Olympic National Park which means that each car needs to have a National Park Pass. This can be purchased annually to cover the entrance fee for all National Parks for $85 and can be purchased here. The other options are to buy a vehicle pass for $30 that is valid for seven days or an Olympic Park Annual Pass for $55. The best option is the America the Beautiful pass if you plan on visiting a national park more than three times within a year.
The other cost associated with this trip is the overnight permits. The online permits can be purchased at Recreation.gov. There will be a $6 reservation fee for the order and an additional $8 per person per night.
Example: The backcountry fee for two people for two nights is $32 pre tax. $6 reservation fee and $16 per person.
Hiking to Toleak Point
I have split up the hike into the notable sections that were outlined in “100 Classic Hikes of Washington”.
Parking Lot to Third Beach
It is time to begin the trip! Olympic National Park has some of my favorite backpacking trips to date so the anticipation I felt about completing this trip was hardly contained.
This initial section will leave you believing this trek will be easy as it is mostly flat with a wide, well maintained trail.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation Change: Descend 300 ft
The trees are massive and lush. The trail seems to engulf you right away leaving you to forget you were just a part of society. Before long you will reach Third Beach where there is a collection of switchbacks and stairs that bring you down to the beach. There is a campsite here.
Third Beach to Rocky Cove
Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Change: Ascend and Descend 200 ft
After reaching Third Beach, follow the beach to the left (south) to reach Taylor Point. If you want to spend some time exploring at Third Beach, there are tide pools to the right that can be seen in the group of rocks that connect the cliff to the shore.
The hike from Third Beach to Taylors Point is about 0.5miles along the beach which is when you’ll come across your first ladder which is now more of a collection of ropes. You will use these ropes to get above Taylor Point. It is a steep and slippery trek. The ropes are a must.
You will know you hiked too far if you reach the waterfall. It is still worth it to see the waterfall! Just know that if you reach the waterfall and do not see the bypass trail marker, you’ve gone too far. Some of the trail makers along this route are weathered and challenging to see.
Climb above Taylors Point. You’ll hike a couple of paces and reach another collection of ladders that have more or less turned into stairs along the path.
On top of Taylors Point the trail continues for about a mile in coastal rainforest. The trail weaves between the trees with some change in elevation before you reach a cove.
This is the rocky cove. Rocky Cove is breathtaking but the hike down is treacherous. The wooden steps are weathered and slippery from the consent sea breeze. This rocky cove is where a park ranger checked my permits! So YES! Make sure you have your permits printed and accessible.
Rocky Cove to Strawberry Point
Getting from Rocky Cove to Strawberry Point will require the use of your tide chart. If the tide is low, you will be able to hike around the rocky cove, but if the tide is high, you’ll have to complete another overland.
The overland essentially takes you up and immediately drops you down on the other side. Of all the overlands, This was the steepest and sketchiest.
Distance: 0.6 miles
Elevation Change: Depends on Overlands – ± 60 ft
After the overland, you can enjoy a casual hike along the beach at low tide. If the tide is higher than 1 foot, you won’t be able to access enough beach for a safe hike. There is a trail in the forest at Scott’s Bluff that is slightly longer than the beach trail.
At Strawberry Point, I took a break for lunch and I am so glad that I did! From the shore I not only see sea otters, seals and plenty of sea birds, but I also saw an Orca and calf. They were clearly on the hunt circling the large standing rocks in the ocean. I didn’t see them catch any lunch thankfully or I might have lost mine.
The ranger that checked my permit in the Rocky Cove had mentioned that there was a dead orca calf that had washed on shore a couple weeks prior. Giving me the warning just in case this was something I wanted to avoid seeing as I walked from Strawberry Point to Toleak Point.
StrawberryPoint to Toleak Point
The hike from Strawberry Point to Toleak Point is along the sandy beach of a large cove. With the destination in view, the momentum to get to Toleak Point is strong.
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation Change: None
It was while hiking along this sandy cove that I came across the carcass of the orca calf. The spine was visible but if the ranger had not said anything, it might have taken me a while to figure out what I was looking at.
All along the cove there were remnants of animal remains. There were larger whale vertebrae and seal bones. It is clear that this cove is a resting place for what comes in with the tides.
Parallel to the beach there is a trail just inside the forest that leads to a variety of campsites. I chose to drop my pack and set up camp before heading to Toleak Point.
Camping Options Along Toleak Point
While you will determine where you are sleeping when you reserve your campsite, here are some of the best options along the way.
Any time you are camping on sand be sure to read your tide chart carefully.
Third beach, while at the beginning of the trail, it is a great stopping point. The views are immaculate and there is fresh water access and pit toilets. The downside of this site is that it gets pretty busy both with overnight campers and day users.
Scott Creek is between Taylor Point and Giants Graveyard. It is in a lush forest area and there are only a couple of campsites. There is access to fresh water and a pit toilet.
Strawberry Point and Toleak Point
The forest trail that connects the two points has plenty of campsites dispersed throughout the path. They both have incredible views. Find a site that works best for you and pitch your tent! A number of the sites along the way have been tricked out with washed ashore debris. The one I stayed at had a makeshift table out of an old boat and a seating area made out of driftwood.
Strawberry Point has limited access to water and no toilet but Toleak Point has both. Depending on where on the trail you set up between the two will determine how close you are to those resources.
Should Toleak Point be a Classic Hike of Washington?
I loved this backpacking trip! There are a number of coastal hikes in the Olympics that are listed in the “100 Classic Hikes of Washington” including Shi-Shi Beach, Ozette Triangle, and Leadbetter Point. After completing all of them I might have to revisit my answer but for now, I am saying YES!
The views were impressive the entire length of the trail and the sea life that I was able to see from shore has had a long standing impression on me.
Tips for Backpacking Toleak Point:
- Bring a tide chart. Tides vary location to location, so print out a tide chart for the area you’re hiking. This trail is located closest to La Push, Washington, so that is the chart you will want to bring. Find the tide chart and table here.
- Always Check Trail Conditions Prior to getting to the trail. You can check trail conditions at the National Park Website Here
- Bear Canisters are REQUIRED get yours here. At the National Park Permit office they have canisters to rent, but if you’re going in the back country regularly it is always nice to have your own.
- Print your permits! You never know when your permits will be checked along the trail.
- Use the Wilderness Map on the NPS website to help plan your trip! Find it here!
I hope you enjoy backpacking this classic trail as much as I did! If you have any questions about backpacking, please let me know in the comments and I would be happy to get back to you.
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