Exploring Cape Flattery: The PNW's Northern Most Coastal Wonder
Feeling like a remote adventure which is untouched by any view? A quiet surround where the last piece of the United States meets the sea? A location which is unparalleled by even the best of movie cinematic shots?
Only a few short hours outside of Seattle, you can find Cape Flattery, the northern most point on the lower 48 northwestern US. A place where the wild is still wild and the beauty is protected and preserved.
This location can be found where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific Ocean and is the northern most boundary of the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary. It is here that you will find the Makah Reservation, a unique area maintained by the native people of the Makah Nation.
While a $10 Recreation Permit will be required to visit the fee is more than worth it for the views and beauty which abound just a short distance within the Reservation.
I found that driving the highway into the area it was a thrill in itself as the winding road rolled alongside many vantage pull offs and created anticipation for the yet to come when arriving at the official trailhead.
When I arrived at the lot I was delighted to see a kiosk with a small map to take a photo and keep me on track, although the further down I walked the more I realized it was clearly marked with some very unique features.
The trail turns into almost a hobbit path with tree stump footings, boardwalks and other unique features which continued to entice me deeper and deeper into the woods. With ever passing step I could hear the water of the coast drawing closer and closer and though the path is approximately a mile, it seemed to go by quickly.
Nothing can prepare you for the views at Cape Flattery as the sea crashes into the rocks and sea caves, the water foul scoops down to catch their dinner and the seas rise and fall exposing tide pools of bold colors and brilliance.
From any number of viewing platforms you can take in the beauty of the wonder surrounding you and look down at the cliffs below which seem to melt into the ocean. At a short distance you can often see whales and sea lions moving in their patterns, schools of fish swimming close to the surface as the tide moves and fog seeming to race in as the day turns to evening.
Salty winds breeze through and as the waves crash the ground beneath you tremble and shake. I was so taken aback and at peace while simultaneously baffled by the brilliance of the water, even on the overcast day.
Visible from the point is a small island, Tatoosh which houses a lighthouse which seems abandoned, but in fact is an active Coast Guard Station. This is one of many Coast Guard stations off the coast of this area, also note that in the community of Neah Bay there is an installation you will pass on your way to the Cape Flattery trailhead.
The visit to Cape Flattery is dramatic, peaceful and a hike like no other you will take while traveling. Declared a nature sanctuary, Cape Flattery is one of wonder year round.
Tips for Visiting:
Make sure to get your permit when in Neah Bay at one of the many locations including the Museum or local store and display this on your dash while on the trail.
Bring a raincoat. There are approximately 207 rain days a year in the area and an average of 117 inches of rain. It is common to catch a misty rain at any given time so be prepared so you can fully enjoy the hike to the cape.
Look into the various ways to visit. You can drive to the location or take a ferry, bus or taxi. When you take a ferry you can do so with yourself only or by ferrying your car alongside you. Tickets do vary for traveling by ferry, bus or taxi of course so explore your options and see which works best for your needs and budget.