Brake for Nature

Olympic National Park – Ozette Lake and Cape Alava Trail

Ozette Lake and the Cape Alava trailhead are about an hour and a half drive north and out to the coast from Forks, our basecamp on the west side of Olympic National Park. A few miles from our destination, on Hoko-Ozette Road, I heard a funny knocking noise, and then I saw the distress on Michael’s face. “I need a place to pull over,” he said. The “tire pressure low” warning had come on, and we watched as the numbers dropped fast. Unfortunately we were driving on the rim for a bit before there was any room to pull over. Here we go again! A second blowout in less than two weeks! This time it really was a blowout. We still don’t know what caused it, but the side of the tire was ripped open. Luckily we had repaired the other tire, so the spare was again available.

Our truck with a flat tire on the side of the road

Michael got to work on changing the tire like it was an old habit. This time there was a little trouble removing the wheel, probably because we had to drive on it with a deflated tire for a bit. He was pulling and pulling, and it just wouldn’t budge. I checked my cell phone, and we had no signal. Crap! The two options were to walk to the ranger station at Ozette Lake, a few more miles down the road, or if we were lucky enough to see one, flag down another motorist. Finally, after some pounding, Michael slid the wheel off, and 20 minutes later the spare was on, and we were on our way again. This meant that the next day would be dedicated to driving back to Port Angeles where we could get a new tire (or two). These are the unexpected expenses and delays that come with traveling.

Although we ended up getting a late start on the Cape Alava Trail, we managed to get all the way out to the beach and back before complete darkness. I wish we had more time here, and if you ever travel up this way, I highly, highly recommend planning for a full day out here. If you are really ambitious and can plan it just right to walk along the beach during low tide, you can hike the entire Ozette Triangle. Hike Cape Alava Trail out to the beach, then walk south along the beach for three miles, and then hike back to your starting point on the Sandpoint Trail for a total of nine miles.

View of Ozette Lake from a footbridge crossing a creek on the Cape Alava Trail

Ozette Lake

The scenery from the Cape Alava Trail blew us away, yet again. How many more adjectives can I find to describe the amazing landscapes found on the Olympic Peninsula? The trail was half gravel, half boardwalk most of the way. The wet, lumpy boardwalk was challenging on my feet and hips. I prefer a soft, dirt path, but I would still hike this trail again in a minute. The walkway took us through a magical old-growth rain forest full of mosses, ferns, and colorful mushrooms. We were walking through a fairy tale. Eventually the trail opened up into a meadow and then the forest closed back in on us. There was something new to see around every bend. We felt like explorers! After three miles, we could see the ocean through the trees. We dropped down the hill and out onto the beach to explore the rocks and tidepools just before sunset. Unfortunately due to some setbacks that day, we had to hightail it back to avoid getting caught in the dark. On the whole, Cape Alava Trail was one of our favorites, and the next time we visit the Olympic Peninsula, I would like to hike the entire Ozette Loop!

Michael standing on one of the boardwalks on Cape Alava Trail A cluster of mushrooms that look like nipples on the Cape Alava Trail

Orange mushrooms with water pooled on top and ferns nearby Purple mushrooms on the side of Cape Alava Trail

Boardwalk on Cape Alava Trail surrounded by ferns, bright green shrubs and conifers Purple "ghost-like" mushroom and several orange mushrooms on Cape Alava Trail Michael on the boardwalk through the meadow on Cape Alava TrailPanoramic of the rainforest on Cape Alava with dense conifers and loads of ferns

Beach at Cape Alava with rocky tide pools and a sea stack in the distance

Beach at Cape Alava

Tidepools, rocks with a great blue heron and gulls, and a sea stack off the coast of Cape Alava

Cape Alava Beach with rocky tide pools and a rock that looks like a monster with arms folded and a puffy cloud in the distance

The day after Cape Alava Trail, we had to drive all the way back to Port Angeles to purchase two new tires – an unexpected and unwanted cost. The leaves were changing colors even more so since we left Port Angeles a few days before. It was a beautiful drive with the clouds, fog, and colorful trees around Lake Crescent. We made the most of being back in town and had an early dinner at the Next Door Gastropub, where we splurged on gourmet burgers (mine had brie, fig jam, and bacon) and sweet potato fries with curry ketchup (I was still on the course of antibiotics for my SIBO, so I was still feeding my bacteria!)


Note: Check out our Instagram page for even more photos! (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: