I’m back from a magical trip to Olympic National Park, and while I planned the whole trip just to see the Hoh Rainforest (and it didn’t disappoint!), I was surprised by how diverse the park was and how many other amazing things I saw…
I’m all about checking off those big bucket list adventures that you’ve spent years dreaming about and planning for, but sometimes the sweetest surprises are the ones that you just stumble upon…
And that’s how I found the Hole in the Wall hike at Rialto Beach.
When I planned our trip to Olympic National Park, we decided to spend a couple of nights in Forks, WA so we’d have plenty of time to hike in the Hoh Rainforest and see whatever else we could.
Well, “whatever else we could” ended up being Rialto Beach!
Rialto Beach is only about 20 minutes from Forks and it’s definitely one of the park’s most famous beaches, but I think with the Hoh Rainforest and Hurricane Ridge, the coastal areas of the park get a little overlooked.
So after we finished up hiking in the rainforest, we headed over to Rialto Beach to check it out.
I’ll be totally transparent here…I had no plan, I hadn’t done any research, and I was honestly a little unprepared…and that’s why I’m writing this post about this hike!
Rialto Beach is easy to find and there’s a fairly good sized parking lot (although I’m sure on warm, clear days it gets busy in the afternoons).
There’s no running water onsite, but there are porta-potties in more permanent structures.
There’s not much of a walk from the parking lot right down to the beach and we spent quite a bit of time beachcombing along the shore.
Now I was vaguely aware that there were tidepools here and we definitely wanted to see them, but like I said, I hadn’t done any research so I made the mistake of walking to the left because those rocks seemed closer.
Well even at low(er) tide, the beach runs out and you can’t get to the far end of the beach so I burned quite a bit of time meandering down that way. But I did climb up to the top of the rocks and logs and there’s a great view back over a little bay.
Hole in the Wall Hike at Rialto Beach
So here’s what I wish I knew before I came to Rialto Beach…if you’re going to come to this beach, I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend you do the Hole in the Wall hike.
And for the best hike possible, you’re going to want to time this at low tide.
Here’s the short story: From the parking lot, walk out towards the beach and walk to the right along the shore for about 1.5 miles until you get to the hole in the wall. You’ll know it when you see it!
So it’s a 3 mile round trip hike from the parking lot to the “Hole in the Wall” and this is definitely the magical end of the beach.
Black sand, driftwood, shells, rock formations, and TIDE POOLS.
The only bad thing about this hike (if you can call it bad) is that there isn’t a trail…you just walk along the shore and 3 miles of walking through sand feels a lot longer.
Now, I’d definitely consider myself a bit of a beach expert, but this is the first beach I’ve been to like this…it’s a wild, cold weather beach so don’t make the mistake of wearing summer clothes or sandals. We visited in early June, and I was dressed for cold weather hiking. I imagine in July and August it’s probably warm enough for shorts, but you’re definitely going to want to wear hiking boots, not sandals.
It’s a long stretch of beach until you get to the first large rock formations, and in between these two rocks is where we found the starfish!
The sandy beach runs out and to get to the Hole in the Wall you’ll have to work your way over rocks. If you’re steady on your feet and have decent balance, you won’t have any trouble, but if you’re a little unsteady (and don’t want to rely on anyone in your group to lend a hand), then you’ll definitely want a pair of hiking poles.
We saw some amazing anemones right under the arch way and I explored a bit beyond the arch, but I never saw anything better than right there.
This whole area is beautiful, but you’ll definitely want to take a photo standing in front of the Hole in the Arch looking back towards the way you came (the arch frames those rocks perfectly).
So depending on how long you spend looking in tidepools, how far past the Hole in the Wall you go etc, this hike could take 2-3 hours. You’ll definitely want to carry some water and snacks plus gear for changing weather.
And if you’re a National Parks Passport stamp collector, there’s not a visitor center here, but there’s a Ranger Station at the Mora campground and they have a stamp (but it’s for Mora, not Rialto Beach).
If you’ve worked up an appetite after your hike, there’s a restaurant at the Three Rivers Resort on the way back to Forks that looks pretty good.
Other Beaches in Olympic National Park
I’m already planning another trip back to Olympic National Park because there was so much that I missed, and the coastal area is at the top of my list.
Ruby Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Olympic National Park and that’s largely because it’s really accessible. It’s right off 101 and everything is right there (including tidepools) so you don’t need to hike.
We drove 101 down the Washington coast towards Oregon and it is such a beautiful stretch.
Next time, I think I’ll stay overnight at Kalaloch Lodge because it’s pretty dreamy.
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