Cape Flattery: A Pacific Northwest Wonderland
There’s a hashtag on Instagram that alludes to a “Pacific Northwest Wonderland.” And honestly, even after living in Washington State for more than 20 years, I never knew what that meant until I took a mini road trip with my friend Bekki to Cape Flattery in Neah Bay, Washington. Located at the northwestern-most point of the continental United States, I hadn’t heard about Cape Flattery until I decided to play “tourist” in my own state. I’ve always known the Pacific Northwest was one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces, but I’m so happy that I decided to finally check it out for myself.
When Bekki flew up from Florida and we set out for a girls-only road trip, we were on the road from Bellevue for more than five hours before we finally arrived at Cape Flattery. Although many people suggest going in the morning, we arrived past 4pm; but it worked out perfectly. Not only was the weather perfectly mild for a late-August afternoon, but the tourists were long gone. We only encountered about a dozen other people throughout the hike.
At the head of the trail, there was a collection of walking sticks created by a local artist with a sign that said something along the lines of, “Feel free to take one and return it, or keep it and donate $5.” Pretty cool if you want a souvenir. But after walking the trail, I think a walking stick would have been more of a hindrance than anything (although I did see some older hikers using them). Plus, it’s only 0.75 miles to lookout point.
When walking through the forest, it’s obvious that this is the same environment in which Twilight was filmed. The trees, lighting, and ambiance are surreal.
…And then you start smelling that quintessential Northwest scent of the ocean. And then you come to a clearing. And then you come across a stunning view of the ocean.
I’m not even exaggerating when I say I could sit on the edge of a Cape Flattery cliff for hours. This land is owned by the Makah Tribe (you have to purchase a pass before visiting!), and I can’t even imagine how beautiful it must have been when the natives lived here centuries ago.
One of the coolest things about walking around Cape Flattery are the cavernous cliffs. If you stand still, you can feel the ground shaking as the waves rush in and out. Oh, and we also spotted the mist from some gray whales just around the corner. AMAZING.
At the end of the trail, you can see a lighthouse perched on Tatoosh Island, named after a Makah chief. While uninhabited, the island once hosted Makah fishing camps as well as employees of the United States Coast Guard, Weather Bureau, and Navy.
Bottom line: Cape Flattery is absolutely one of those bucket list adventures for anyone living in or passing through Washington State. It’s a great hiking trail for non-hikers (like me), and it’s truly one of the most beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest.