For more on Second Beach, see our Second Beach web page.
   Older Entries

07/07/23 - Second Beach, Low Tide, Ocean Mist

We went to Second Beach at a recent extreme low tide. The sun was bright, but the air was misty down by the cold sea. We hiked out to the seastack that is only reachable during very low tides and we explored and explored. We also hiked down to the south end of the beach and explored some more.

We took so many pictures, we had to break this into two posts. This section focuses on the sea, sand, seastacks and spray. The other section focused more on the tide pools and the amazing return of the starfish.

The hike from the parking lot to the sea

A seastack with the wrong camera settings

Another seastack with the wrong camera settings

A seastack with the camera in the proper mode

The seastack cave

Extreme low tide

More seastacks and the Pacific Ocean

Sea mist offshore

Another look out to sea

Blue ocean

From a distance

Pigeon guillemots on a rock

We'll have to look these up

Beach mist

The tide is out

Green haze at the south end of the beach

More green haze

More seastacks and low tide

More on that theme


A group of researchers studying the beach at various distances

Return through green forest

More of the hike back

Keywords: second beach, tides

08/01/21 - Second Beach at Extreme Low Tide

There have been some extremely low tides out at Second Beach this summer. The beach only recently reopened to the public, so we took advantage of the reopening and a recent low tide to see the beach at its widest and head out to the sea stack that is usually an unreachable island.

We expected big crowds, but the trail and beach were relatively quiet. The Third Beach trailhead parking lot, in contrast, was overflowing. We hiked through the forest and descended to the beach. There is usually a driftwood barrier to clamber over, but the beach was clear this time. The driftwood had drifted elsewhere.

We made our way to the sea stack dry shod. It was great to see so many starfish. With the plague wiping out so many of them some years back and recent stories of sea creatures being cooked in their shells we expected the worst. There were starfish and a good many of them. It was far from the years before the plague, but they were not hard to find.

We explored the sea stack, its caves and its seaward side. Then we headed down the beach into the light mist. With an extreme negative tide like this, there was lots of beach and it was easy going. There were more starfish down near the cave at the end of the beach and anemones galore. We spent some time exploring here and then made our way back to the return forest trail.

The trail to Second Beach

No driftwood blocking the way

The hole in the wall towards La Push

The sea stack off shore

A welcome sight

More starfish

Even more starfish


A starfish pool

Faint mist

More sea stacks

Pelicans or pterodactyls?

More pelicans

The beach

More starfish and friends

Tide pools

Even more starfish

Saying good bye to the sea stack

The trail back

Keywords: second beach, summer, third beach, tides

07/12/19 - Second Beach - Low Tide

There have been some really low tides at the West End beaches, but road work at Lake Crescent has made it difficult to get out there except on weekends. This time, however, time and tide did wait for us, so we made our way out to Second Beach at an extreme low tide. According to the GPS, most of our walk was underwater, though with the low tide we were always on dry sand. We made our way out to the big seastack that is usually cut off by water and explored. This time, we didn't even have to wade, and we were able to make our way almost all the way around the seastack.

The big news was starfish everywhere, but more on that in another post. For this post, the big news was a journey out to a usually inaccessible sea stack and getting a chance to explore its caves, beaches and tide pools.

GPS map showing us walking on water

Stairs to the beach

The seastack at extreme low tide

At the seastack

Hidden cave on the far side

One of the sea birds

Exploring the far side

Another view from the far side

The seastack via land bridge

Barnicles on the rocks

Exploring the seastack, misty skies

The near side of the seastack

Mysterious caves

The main seastack is on the right.

Across the beach

Sea, sand and seastacks

Algae on the rocks


The candelabrum tree, a happy mutant, with three branches again

Keywords: beaches, birds, lake crescent, second beach, tides

07/11/19 - Second Beach - Starfish

A few years ago, just about all of the starfish in the Pacific Northwest were wiped out by a mysterious disease. At low tide we would often see them clinging to rocks close to sea level waiting out the dry period. Then, they were gone. We have heard that they were recovering, but we only saw a handful of them, here and there. This time, we made our way out to a seastack, and there they were, by the dozen. There were others on more accessible rocks. It is such a relief to see them coming back.


More starfish

Even more starfish

Do we even need a caption here?

Some anemones

Starfish at the south end of Second Beach

More starfish ...

Wow, lots more starfish

Keywords: second beach

06/20/18 - Second Beach - Starfish

Yes, there were starfish at Second Beach. There were lots of them out at the seastack, and we even found one on the beach. There used to be more, but more recently there were none. It's really good to see them back.

Starfish waiting out the low tide

Another starfish

Another starfish hunkering down

A view from the seastack

Another starfish lying low

More starfish

Starfish and anemones

More starfish and anemones

Yet another starfish

A starfish on the beach

A view of the beach

Keywords: second beach

06/19/18 - Second Beach - To The Seastack

Now and then there are really low tides out at Second Beach. A low tide below three feet is perfect for walking the beach, but a zero or negative low tide is perfect for exploring the seastack. We took advantage of a recent really low tide and braved the half hour construction delay along Lake Crescent. We lucked out and found a parking spot and made our way through the woods and down to Second Beach.

We were in time for the really low tide. We made our way south along the beach and were soon on a spit of beach heading towards the seastack. Sometimes it is possible to get to the seastack dry shod, but we had to wade for a bit, but we did it. We made it out to the seastack, and we had a pleasant surprise. There were starfish there, waiting out the low tide.

The 3/4 mile trail through the forest to Second Beach

Beach mist

Driftwood, sea mist and our goal ahead

More driftwood and sea mist

The seastack

Some of the caves on the seastack

The caves we explored

A view of the beach

Caves of the seastack

A view from the south end of Second Beach

Another view from the south

Keywords: second beach

10/12/16 - Second Beach

With the Elwha Valley trails and the Spruce Railroad Trail closed we’ve been getting back to the west coast beaches. We had explored Rialto Beach and made our way to the coast at Third Beach, so this time we checked out Second Beach, which is probably our favorite. The day was bright, and the tide was low, so we made our way through the forest, down the bluff and then south along the beach to the sea cave and tide pools. It was an easy, relaxing walk, though we were both tired on the climb back.

The view to the north with the Hole in the Wall

Our first look at the beach

Sea stacks - Second Beach has a lot of them

Another view of the sea stacks

A sea stack reflected

Anemones - the green ovals - but no star fish

Another sea stack reflected

The driftwood where the trail meets the beach

The treasure tree, nicely fed

Forest trail …

… and more forest trail

Keywords: beaches, second beach, trails

06/26/16 - Second Beach at Low Tide

We took advantage of the lovely, sunny day and the -0.3 foot low tide at La Push to get out and explore Second Beach. The forest was alive with green light filtering through the trees, and there was an array of driftwood to clamber over to get to the beach, but the beach was broad and beautiful. Even better, the tide looked enough for us to get out to one of the usually isolated sea stacks.

We made our way along the beach and started our approach. There was a spit of sand jutting out towards the sea stack, but it ended a bit short. There was still a channel to cross, so we took off our shoes and laid them on what passed for high ground. Then we waded out. The water came over our knees, but only for a few steps. Then we were approaching the caves at the base of the sea stack.

We made our way around to the tide pools, and there we saw them - starfish. There was a starfish plague a year or two ago, and it wiped out just about every starfish in the Pacific northwest, even the ones in aquariums. But, here in the tide pools at the base of this inaccessible sea stack, there were starfish, dozens of them. They were clutching the rocks by the pools full of anemones. It was really good to see them.

We only spent so long at the sea stack. The tide was already rising, and our shoes were in imminent danger. We reclaimed them and walked south along beach revealed only when the tide was this low. We made our way to the little sea cave at the southern end of the beach, braving the clouds of sea mist that swirled along the beach. Out at sea we could see the Pacific mist condensing into purplish clouds out past the line of sea stacks.

All told it was an amazing visit. Even when the tide is negative, the isolated sea stack is often still unreachable. We had only made our way out there once before, so getting back out there again was a real treat.

This sea stack is only accessible when the tide is extremely low and the sand available permits.

The caves at the base of the sea stack

A view out to sea


More starfish

Starfish and anemones

The other seastacks

The beach looking south

Sea stacks at the southern end of the beach

The sea cave and lots of sea weed

Another view

Keywords: la push, second beach

08/25/14 - Second Beach - Surf's Up

We were out at Second Beach for a moderate low tide. Most of the driftwood where the trail meets the beach is gone, so it was easy going. The tidal flats were broad and sandy, but wet. There was a bit of ocean fog which lent an air of mystery to the scene. The tide was still going out when we arrived, so we slop-slop-slopped our way along the beach to the south.

There were a lot of folks camping, including a den of pirates, possibly hiding out from the minions of the RIAA. We also saw a few surfers, black forms in their wet suits. They splashed their way out from shore, then rode the waves gracefully back to the shallows. Second Beach is not a tropical paradise like Waikiki. It's a more mysterious place with fog, cold water and an essential wildness, and all the more attractive for it.

We made our way to the sea cave and tide pools at the south end of the beach and are sad to report that there were no star fish there. They've been dying from some mysterious disease, but we had hopes.

Ocean fog and low tide

More fog

Wide, flat beach

Magical light

Pirate's den


Actually surfing

More surfing

Homeward bound

The rocks and tide pools

Anemones, but no starfish

Keywords: second beach

10/18/13 - Second Beach

Second Beach was one of the handful of park trails that were open during the government shutdown. The parking lot is on Quileute tribal land, though much of the trail and the beach itself are part of the park. We took the short walk through the rain forest down to the sea. It's not a real long walk, maybe three quarters of a mile, but the trees are wild, green and covered with moss.

The beach itself was easy to reach. First there is a little climb, then the forest walk, and then the twisting descent through the forest to the beach. There are glimpses of the ocean as the trail descends. Then, trail breaks out to the beach, wide, bright and open. It almost feels like going outside, but first there is the driftwood. Some years there is quite a substantial barrier. Some years it is a simple step onto the sand. Right now, most of the driftwood is gone. There is some, but it's more of a simple maze than a challenge course.

We were two hours before low tide, but it was a very low tide, so there was a lot of wet beach, gray and sparkling. The seastacks were as magical as ever. They almost seem impossible, or at least improbable, but there they are, remnants of an eroding shoreline, each with its own watershed and forested topping, an ecological island of fresh water surrounded by salt.

We made our way south, stopping to explore a few tidal pools and checking out the star fish and anemomes. The tide was far out and there was a lot of sand. We walked the still wet sand to the little sea cave and then made our way out towards the headland. In winter, this area is often rocky, but it was still summer here. We explored the coves and the rocks at the base of the far seastacks, then, well before low tide we started home.

A modest driftwood barrier

The sea and sand

A seastack

Another seastack and a tidepool

The rocks

The headland


An anemone

and friends

Starfish hideout

and more starfish

Keywords: second beach, trails

07/12/12 - Second Beach

Second Beach is just south of La Push, and it's one of our favorite beaches. We took the 3/4 mile walk through the rain forest down to the beach. The trail was a bit muddy and the air still. As we approached the beach the air freshened, and we were greeted by the driftwood wall. There was a fair bit of driftwood, but a lot less than on our last visit. We had to climb, but a lot of the really big logs were washed back out to sea.

The beach was easy walking, just a broad sand plain. There seemed to be more sand than usual, and some of the rocks we'd see along the shore appeared to be more deeply buried than we remembered. This was particularly noticeable on narrow section of beach towards the sea cave with many familiar rocks less visible and a deeply cut stream channel running through the sand.

In contrast, the entrance to the sea cave was rocky. All of the sand there had washed out. The tide was low, but not a real low low tide, so we didn't visit the hidden beaches past the cave, though we could see a lot more rocks and a lot less sand.

We had a nice picnic lunch on the beach, and made our way home through the forest, pausing to admire the Treasure Tree which was sporting a variety of pretty stones, bright red berries and feathers. We're not sure who contributes, but they've done a great job. Unlike Rialto Beach nearby, Second Beach is a hidden beach, not visible from the road and a special treasure because of this.

Seastacks across the driftwood

Seastacks and the hole in the wall

Tide pools and lots of sand

Approach to the sea cave

A stream makes a deep cut in the sand.

The rocky sea cave entrance and more seastacks

View from the sea cave entrance

Staircase home

The Treasure Tree with feathers, berries, stones

More of the Treasure Tree, the main stash

The big candelabrum tree - impressive, even with one arm broken

Keywords: beaches, la push, second beach

06/14/11 - Second Beach Driftwood Report

We were out at Second Beach around low tide on a gray day. We could smell the salt air as we descended to the beach from the rain forest. The driftwood pile at the beach was there, but it had changed since last autumn. The two big logs that formed the waterfront rampart were gone, presumably washed out to sea. The structure had changed in other ways as well. Our familiar clamber to the sea was gone. We had to figure out a new series of ups, downs, overs and alongs.

The payoff was as wonderful as ever. The beach was broad, flat and firm. There was a bit of mist in the distance, but otherwise we had good clear views. We made our way south, avoiding the puddles of left over ocean and admiring the huddled star fish and anemones as we explored. It was pretty easy going. The beach had lots of sand, so it was easy getting to the little cave. We lacked the energy to go much farther, not really wanting to deal with the barnicle and seaweed encrusted rocks.

We saved our strength for the climb out, a clamber back over the driftwood and then a brutal 200 foot or so climb out. If we're sounding pathetic here, we apologize. We often go to Second Beach when we are tired. It's a great place to recover with some sea air and spectacular scenery. This was no exception. We came back much invigorated by the sea.

Keywords: second beach

09/05/10 - Second Beach Report

There was less driftwood at Second Beach than we had to clamber over last time. Presumably, it's been washing out to sea. In contrast, there is more sand on the beach. We were able to walk to the little sea cave at the south end of the beach without walking on any rocks. Our path was all sand. There was even a little ledge of sand that we could sit on while we ate our sandwiches.

There's less driftwood than last time.

Sort of dreamy landscape

Tide pools

Sea stacks

Lots more sand

Decorated with feathers ...

and little stones and shells and ...

Keywords: second beach

05/04/10 - Second Beach

We'll start by apologizing for some of these photos not being quite level. The wind was just too fierce to hold the camera steady. That said, the scenery was pretty spectacular at Second Beach the other day. Even at low tide, the waters were wild, and the wind had the sea foam flying. We didn't even walk all that far down the beach. The winds from the south were just too much for us.

On the plus side, the big pile of driftwood seems to be shrinking. The clamber out to the beach was much easier than we had expected, and several of the really big logs seemed to have drifted back out to sea.

Fewer logs than last time

Low tide

Wild weather

The arch

A starfish

Wild water

Gray skies

Keywords: second beach, weather

02/22/10 - Second Beach

Have we mentioned that we're having great beach weather? This is Second Beach, our favorite west end beach.

The driftwood maze

Tidepools and seastacks

The reflected sky

Keywords: second beach

01/25/10 - Second Beach

There were some good tides at Second Beach, so we went for a walk. The driftwood wall has been rebuilding, but we still managed to clamber out to the beach. This time there was brilliant light and a faint haze.

More driftwood

Oooh, arty!

Lens flare - too much Star Trek: The Reboot

A wide, wet beach

More wide, wet beach

Keywords: second beach

01/08/10 - The Driftwood Is Coming Back To Second Beach

The driftwood is coming back to Second Beach. If you click on the second beach keyword, you'll see that we last reported an almost complete lack of driftwood between the trailhead and the beach. In fact, you could just step down from the trail to the beach with no further ado, but now the driftwood is coming back. It's nothing like it was last summer where one had to clamber over log after log, but there is a nice collection of logs piling up.

The view from the trailhead


More pretty

The wild beach

Seastacks down near the cave

Keywords: second beach

11/13/09 - Second Beach and Winter

We took advantage of a brief break in the clouds and a good afternoon tide to visit Second Beach, one of our favorite West End beaches and well under a 90 minute drive from Port Angeles. We made our muddy way through the woods and encountered our first surprise at the beach. We had been expecting the usual clamber from the trail access to the beach proper, but all but a few of the logs were gone. Just as they had been mysteriously washed ashore some years back, they had been washed out to sea some time since our last visit in July.

We arrived to mixed cloudy skies and a falling tide, but to the west we could see the clouds and pillars of rain closing. We sat on a log and ate our tuna salad sandwiches from Good To Go. A fellow visitor warned us the weather was changing. Then we headed south along the beach. The sky grew grayer and darker. The water was a bit high to make it to the sea cave and the wind was rising from the south. We turned about and headed back. The drizzle started, then turned to rain. At least we didn't have a monkey playground of wet logs to clamber over. We dodged to the muddy safety of the woods and made our way home.

A real weather sky

You can see the rain showers coming in.

The sky was mixed when we arrived.

The sky turned gray as we explored.

More gray skies.

How the trail access looks now - just a few logs

How it looked before - lots of logs

Keywords: beaches, good to go, second beach, weather

   Older Entries