As summer approaches, hiking opportunities abound along the United States coastlines. The west and east coasts offer hikers diverse scenery where beaches turn into rocky caverns within a few miles of each other. Anyone interested in wandering through hushed landscapes, seeing nautical wildlife, or catching waves should consider planning a coastal adventure soon. Also, most of these trails lead into others, allowing for lengthier hikes if desired.
The Lost Coast (California)
The Lost Coast has remained fairly unknown to the public despite its idyllic landscape. Having avoided the highway development that paved most of California’s coast, this 24 mile stretch of shoreline between Humboldt and Mendocino County only knows the puttering of the surf and honks from sea lions. Redwood forests wall the hike’s eastern side, insulating travelers in a world that feels nearly untouched. The terrain teeters between sandy and pebbled beaches that occasionally lead over jagged rock. If surfing interests you, journey to the southern point and enjoy the coming waves.
Cutler Coast Public Reserve (Maine)
For a shorter venture through coastal terrain, check out Cutler Coast Public Reserve in Maine. The hike is about 10 miles long with 5 miles worth of it being along shoreline where hikers can scale cliffs and walk across cobblestone beaches. Watch for humpback whales to break through waves and seals to visit the shore. And if you are into birding, you will appreciate the array of feathered life including puffins, seagulls and ravens flocking overhead and settling on islands across from the coast.
Shi Shi (Washington)
Shi Shi beckons hikers to explore a sandier portion of the Northwest’s coastline. Located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the hike is between 3 and 4 miles depending on how far north you venture along the beach. Sheltered by spruce forests, Shi Shi provides that solitude and seclusion desired in an outdoor retreat. Waves drift through sea stacks, sweeping over driftwood and stones gathered along the shore. For surfers, the unpopulated beach presents opportunities to wade into the Pacific’s cold waters and catch some chill waves back to camp.
Tillamook Head Traverse Trail (Oregon)
If you prefer a muddier hike through the wilderness to the shoreline that is steeped in history, then consider Tillamook Head Traverse. About 3.6 miles long, this trek begins at Tillamook Head Trailhead and continues south through Oregon’s forests until finishing at either Indian Beach or Ecola Point (a 1.5 mile difference). Aside from being immersed in various forms of nature and seeing incredible views of the Pacific, you will also be travelling along the path Lewis and Clark wandered during their expedition. Be sure to check out the WWII bunkers clumped in moss that now blend into the fern and alder tree scenery.
By Michael Schoentag