Rating : 4 out 5Distance from Seattle, WA : 190 miles aprox. 3 1/2hrs
Reason to go: When the weather is fair location offers amazing landscape imagery. Washington & Oregon coastline suffer from morning & afternoon marine layers. If you are camping nearby you will have better chances to capture a clear day
Difficulty: 2 out of 5 (1/4 mile walk down dirt path descending 200ft from parking lot. A few steps are over a foot apart.
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Ruby Beach, located about 35 miles south of the town of Forks ("Twilight") on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, is one of the most scenic beaches in the state that is accessible to the public. It offers rugged sea stacks, flat sand, and a small stream that flows through it just at the base of the short trail from the parking lot.
To reach Ruby Beach, simply drive south from Forks, or north from Aberdeen, on highway 101. The turn-off, especially from the north, is not well marked. Coming from Forks, it's on your right; pay attention or you'll miss it. A short dirt road leads to a gravel parking lot with space for about 50 vehicles and a couple of Sani-Cans, which are the only "amenities" at the beach. A short path switchbacks down the slope through spruce and fir and salmonberries, and emerges into a jumble of logs at the top of the beach. There's a "landing" of sorts where you can pause and take in the view of the jagged sea stacks through the trees.
Once you reach the beach proper, take a stroll among the giant boulders, marvel at the rugged coasline, or simply sit on a log and revel in the fresh salt air. In summer, the beach is often crowded, but mid-week visitors will usually find plenty of free space to explore and enjoy. Like most of the Washington coast, Ruby Beach is often fog-shrouded or storm-swept, but on a clear or partly-cloudy day, the sunsets can be spectacular. Ruby Beach for photographers is like a candy store for kids... if you've brought a camera - and no one should visit this beach without one! - be sure to stay and watch as the setting sun plays among the rocks and turns the beach into a sparkling jewel.
Camping on the beach is not permitted, but many people enjoy picnics or barbecues on the beach, or gather round a campfire to roast marshmallows as evening falls. Make sure you bring a jacket, even in summer; the weather can change quickly, and it's often windy and cool, even during warmer months. Dry socks and shoes are handy as well, since crossing the small stream that bisects the beach can result in wet feet, particularly at high tide when it's impossible to cross on the flat, sandy beach of the intertidal zone.
Pets: Unless posted, most Washington State Beaches are Dog Friendly and require pets to remain on short leashes.
The path down to the beach is fairly narrow and you will pass by coolers, strollers, hikers. It is important that you have a well behaved dog that doesn't pull on the leash or jump after strangers. When I am out with my dog navigating tree stumps, narrow foot paths, elevated paths I like to keep her secure in a Ruff Wear harness. This harness allows the leash to be attached behind the shoulder blades instead of to her collar. It also has a grab handle to help her get over high rocks and toppled trees.
Places to Stay:
Campgrounds at Kalaloch and South Beach are the only places to camp on the southern coast of Olympic National Park. Kalaloch is open year-round, and has 175 campsites, four of which are wheelchair accessible. Make sure to reserve a site as early on in the year as possible, as they fill up quickly and most are booked throughout the summer. South Beach, just south of Kalaloch, has about 50 campsites and is open Memorial Day - late September.
Kalaloch Lodge, right on the beach, has rooms and cabins available upon reservation.
Hiking the southern coast of the Olympic Peninsula provides some amazing sights of the pristine beaches and marine wildlife. North of Ruby Beach, the Hoh River creates a natural boundary.
Kalaloch is a great place for bird watching. Western gulls, bald eagles, and other coastal birds can be spotted nesting and feeding along the southern coast.
When hiking the coast, always check the tides (current charts available at the Kalaloch Information Station). Certain areas may become impassable during high tides and overland trails must be used.
To the north, the Hoh Rain Forest is about a 45-minute drive from Kalaloch. To the south, Queets and the Quinault are only 30 miles away. Make sure to consult the Getting Around page for a table of the different mileages between park destinations.