Kalaloch Beach 4, Olympic National Park

One of the most popular things to do on the Olympic National Park coast is to go tide pooling.  Exploring the tidal pools and discovering all the creatures that inhabit them is a fun activity for the whole family.  And there is no better beach to do this than Kalaloch Beach 4.

I’ve written this complete guide to Beach 4 to share everything you need to know to enjoy your visit there to the max.

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Kalaloch Beach 4, Olympic National Park

Guided Tours of Beach 4, Kalaloch, WA

If you have your own vehicle and a reasonable level of fitness, it is easy to do this hike yourself.  However, if you don’t want to drive, prefer not to deal with the hassle of parking, or just want an expert guide to explain things along the way, an organized tour is a great option.  

This private full day tour actually meets at the parking lot for Beach 4.  In addition to tie at the beach, possible stops include Rialto Beach, Tree of Life and the Hoh Rainforest

Book a full-day private trip to Olympic National Park

Trail Kalaloch Beach 4, Olympic National Park

There is a short trail from the parking lot down to Beach 4.

Distance to beach: 0.2 miles each way

Type of hike: Out and back

Elevation change: 91 feet

Time: 5 minutes each way

Difficulty: Easy – moderate.  The trail itself is short, but has some elevation change.  If you have mobility difficulties, the final section down a rope over some rocks may be impossible. See below for more details.

Trailhead: Beach 4 parking lot

Highlights: Tide pooling

Fee: There is no special trail or beach fee and you don’t pass through any Olympic National Park entrance station to enter Beach 4 so you can do this hike for free.  

However, if you’re going to enter other sections of Olympic National Park like Sol Duc, Hoh Rain Forest and Hurricane Hill, you will need to pay the Olympic National Park entrance fee. Plus paying the fee helps support our parks.  

Buy it online or, if you are planning to visit more than just Olympic National Park this year (Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park are both close), it can be great value to purchase an America The Beautiful pass.    

Open: Year-round

Kalaloch Beach Map 

You can use this Kalaloch Beach map to see the short trail to the beach and where the best tidepools are. 

It’s perfectly sufficient for this hike but if you’re going to be doing more hiking in Olympic National Park, it’s worth getting a National Geographic topographic hiking trails map of Olympic National Park before you go.

Description of Beach 4, Kalaloch Beach WA


There is somewhat small parking lot at the beach, so in the busy season, it can be difficult to find a park.  You should time your visit around the tides, so may need to be patient to find a spot. There are restrooms at the parking lot.

The trailhead leaves directly from the parking lot and is very easy to see.

Beach 4 Viewpoint

Soon after, you’ll come to a fork in the path.

If you take the path to the right, you’ll very soon end up at a viewpoint.  There is no beach access from the viewpoint.

This path is flat and if you have mobility issues, this is a nice way to see the beach from above.

If you are headed down to the beach, go back and take the left fork.

Trail to Beach 4

There are several interpretive signs along the main trail explaining more about the forest and the beach.

The trail starts flat and heads through the forest.

However, the trail soon starts to descend.  There are wide stairs, so it’s easy to navigate, but you do need to have some mobility to descend (and then go back up on the return).

There are also non-stepped sloped sections. 

Despite the elevation change, it’s an easy trail through lush forest and is a lovely way to get to the beach.  It’s just 0.2 miles each way, so takes about five minutes.

Getting down to the beach

You’ll soon arrive at a lovely wooden bridge that crosses from the hillside to some rocks that stand at the entrance to the beach.

The next section is the hardest.  The rocks are not that high, but they are steep.  You’ll see a rope attached that drapes down from the bridge to the beach.  

You need to grab hold of the rope and use to support you as you back down the side of the rock to the beach.

It’s short, but can be a little intimidating.  As long as you have reasonable mobility, you’ll be able to do it, though.

You can see here the rocks and the bridge.

The rocks are actually very picturesque and looks like of like a molded wave.

You can see from this photo that not everyone even uses the rope (though I recommend using it, as it is safer and easier). 

The Beach

When you arrive on the beach, you’ll be about half way along.  Looking to the left, there isn’t too much to see as Beach 4 doesn’t have the dramatic sea stacks that many of the Olympic beaches have.   

The beach is black and pebbly.  It’s edged by the forest, and there is usually some driftwood along the edge of the beach.

Looking right, you can see some rocks off in the distance.  That’s where you’re headed.

It’s a pleasant and easy 0.2-mile walk along the black sand and pebble beach to the rocks.

There is often enormous driftwood washed up against the edge of the beach. 

Trees in the adjacent forest fall into rivers and float down to the ocean.  They then get tossed up onto the beaches in the fierce storms that often happen in the Pacific Northwest. 

Those same waves also wash up into the forest, killing trees at the edge, that then topple directly onto the beach.  

Wind and waves then strip the trees bare and you end up with the stark, sun-bleached, tree-sized logs that you’ll see on the beach.

Up ahead, you’ll see some rocks blocking off most of the beach.  These rocks are your destination as this is where the rock pools are located.

The Tide Pools

The best tide pools are at the northern side of the big rocks. 

I spent a long time exploring these pools.  There are cool looking pink anemones.

Many of the rocks are covered in mollusks that are permanently attached to them.  It can make walking around the area challenging, as you want to avoid stepping on them. 

If you do accidentally step on them, they are very sharp, which is why it’s so important to have good shoes or boots with a thick sole.

There are also tons of purple and orange star fish.  They are often mounded up next to each other and – I think, anyway – look a little creepy – but cool.

If you look closely, you’ll also often see hermit crabs crawling around the bottom of the pools. 

It’s the green sea anemones, though, that were the highlight for me.  They look dull, brown and slimy when closed up, which they do when the water level drops and they are exposed to the air.  But when they’re below water, they open up and the green fronds are really beautiful.

Always keep an eye on the tides, and know when, from the tide charts, you should think about heading back.  Fortunately, it’s only 0.2 miles from the tide pools to the trail and then an other 0.2 miles back to the trail up to the parking lot. 

Kalaloch Tide Pools

The Kalaloch Beach tide pools are, in my experience, the best tidepools in Olympic National Park. 

Tidepools are pretty amazing if you think about it.  They’re submerged half the time and exposed to the sun twice a day.  Storm waves pound them and sea surges through them. Yet, somehow, life thrives.

Some of the main creatures you’ll see here include purple and orange sea stars.  They have suction that they use to attach to rocks to prevent them being tossed around by waves.  Mollusks also attach themselves permanently to the rocks. 

You’ll also notice pink and green sea anemones clustering together.  The clustering helps reduce evaporation, crowds out competing organisms, and amasses more tentacles to catch, sting and hold prey.

Many of the animals are low and rounded to withstand pounding surf.  

The best pools are found at low tide near the large rock to the north. 

Kalaloch Tide Table

As mentioned, the highlight of any trip to Beach 4 is exploring the tide pools.  To do this, you’ll need to visit at low tide.  Plan to arrive at the beach at least 30 minutes before the lowest tide. 

I recommend checking the official NOAA Kalaloch tide chart when you are planning your trip so you can visit at the right time.  This tide chart is considered the most reliable and is the one recommended by the NPS.

When you look at the Kalaloch Beach tide chart, you may notice that some low tides are ‘negative tides’ meaning that they go below sea level.  You can explore the tide pools at any low tide, but the negative tides are the best, as the water levels are the lowest.  

Tips for Exploring the Kalaloch area

  1. If you have mobility issues, there are two difficulties you’ll face.  The first is getting to the beach.  The trail pops you out at a short wooden bridge that spans from the hillside to some rocks on the edge of the beach.  Then you need to get down the rocks to the beach.
    There is a rope that you hold on to as you back down the steep rocks.  This could be challenging for some people. There is a short, flat trail from the parking lot to a viewpoint so you can see the beach as an alternative.
  2. Secondly, when exploring the tidepools, you’ll need to clamber over wet rocks that can be steep and slippery.  See below for recommended footwear.
  3. When you get on to the beach, take a look back so you can easily identify where you entered (and therefore where you to exit) the beach.  Beach 4 is easier than most to identify because of the unusual rocks and the wooden bridge, but it’s still worth a quick look. 
  4. When you enter the beach, head north (right) and look for a large rock at the water’s edge.  The best tide pools are at the north side of this large rock. 
  5. Time the hike for low tide.  Plan to arrive at the beach at least 30 minutes before the lowest tide so you have sufficient time to spend there before the tide comes in.
  6. Don’t expect warm sunny weather, even in summer.  The Pacific Northwest is much more famous for fog and rain than it is for sun. The beach is often shrouded in fog and it can rain at any time.
    I recommend taking a rain coat with you. If you need a raincoat, I like this Columbia rain jacket for men and this Little Donkey Andy rain jacket for women.

What You Need To Take/ Wear to Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park

  1. I recommend taking a rain jacket and wearing layers that you can take off or put on depending on the weather, which can change throughout the day.

    If you need one, I like this Columbia rain jacket for men and this Little Donkey Andy rain jacket for women.
  2. You will definitely want to take a camera.  I love the GoPro HERO 12.  It is designed for travel.  It’s water resistant and durable and takes photos, video and even does streaming.  Check current prices on the GoPro HERO 12 here 
  3. Check my list of essential things to take and wear on a day hike to make sure you have everything you need.
  4. Water shoes or sturdy hiking shoes or boots with a good sole.

    You’ll spend most of the time walking on sloping, wet rocks.  They can be slippery.  They are also sharp, as you may end up walking over shells that have very sharp edges.

    So, even though this is technically a beach walk, you’ll want to wear good hiking boots or shoes. If you need to get some, take a look at my Guide to Buying the Best Hiking Shoes/ Boots to help you know what to look for and get some recommendations.

    My top pick is this pair of Salomon Gore-Tex boots.

Kalaloch Camping 

If you’d like to camp nearby, Kalaloch Campground is just 3 miles south of Beach 4.  

Between late May and late September, you can book a Kalaloch campsite online.  A and B loop campsites can be reserved 6 months in advance; C and D loop campsites can be reserved two weeks in advance; and E and F loop campsites can be reserved 4 days in advance.  Check availability here.

During the rest of the year, it is on a first-come, first-served basis. During winter (November – April), some campground loops are closed, but camping is still available.

Although the campsites are not directly on the beach, several of them overlook the water and there is beach access from the campground. It’s a large campground with 168 campsites, including one group site and four accessible sites. 

Sites are set among a beautiful coastal forest and all have picnic tables and campfire rings with grates.  Food lockers and drinking water are available at the restrooms. There are no hookups, though a dump station is available for a $10 fee ($5 with a Senior or Access Pass).

When you’re there, don’t miss The Tree of Life on Kalaloch Beach.

Tree logs on the beach and behind are trees on the cliffs in Olympic National Park

Hotels near Kalaloch Beach 4

Here are some good hotels near Kalaloch Beach, WA.

LUXURY OPTION: Woodlands Inn

Located in Forks, this isn’t a five-star resort, but does have very comfortable cabins with porches in a pleasant setting.  Each cabin features a patio, a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, a fireplace, a seating area with a sofa, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with shower and a hairdryer. There are several bed configurations offered.

Check availability for Woodlands Inn

MID-RANGE OPTION: Kalaloch Lodge

If you prefer to stay closer to the beach, Kalaloch Lodge is right there. In fact, it’s inside Olympic National Park.   The lodge is right on the beach and has several rooms types, including rooms with ocean views. There’s a restaurant and gift shop. Free parking is available. WiFi is available in the main lodge, but not in the cabins or their Seacrest House.  Pets are welcome in some of the rooms.

Check availability at Kalaoch Lodge

BUDGET OPTION: Pacific Inn Motel 

Located in Forks, this motel is a comfortable, clean option at a more affordable price.  Rooms have private bathrooms, free WiFi, a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Some rooms have private balconies and family rooms are offered. 

Check availability at Pacific Inn Motel

Kalaloch Beach Weather

In terms of the weather, Kalaloch WA may not be your top pick for a beach vacation.  The Pacific Northwest is much more famous for fog and powerful storms than it is for balmy sunshine. 

Winter is by far the wettest season.  This is when the region gets the bulk of the rain – and it is a LOT of rain.  Temperatures are surprisingly mild, though. The coldest month is December, with an average low-temperature of 34°F and an average high-temperature of 45°F. 

Summer is much drier.  This is by far the most popular time to visit and is also when the weather is by far the best. Temperatures are mild.  July and August are the warmest months, but even then, average temperatures range between lows of 49°F and 71°F.  Although there’s a lot less rain in summer, rain and thunderstorms are possible at any time and it can be foggy on the coast even on sunny days. 

Spring and Fall are similar but opposite.  In spring, the temperature is rising and the rainfall is decreasing, while in fall, temperatures are falling and rainfall is increasing.  

September is a lovely month with still very mild temperatures and not too much rain, but the other months are a mixed bag, with unpredictable weather.

Directions to Kalaloch Beach 4

Beach 4 is in the Kalaloch part of Olympic National Park, north of Quinault and Queets and south of Hoh and La Push.  Beach 4 is three miles north of Kalaloch Beach and the campground.

To get to Beach 4 from Forks, drive south on US-101 for 31 miles.  The parking lot is right off US-101 on your right. It’s 4.3 miles after Ruby Beach.

There are two routes from Seattle to Beach 4.  The shorter route is the southern route via Tacoma. Follow I-5 S, WA-8 W and US-12 W to 95190/Wynoochee Valley Rd in Grays Harbor County. Take the exit toward Devonshire Road from US-12 W. Then Drive to US-101 N and follow this for 81 miles.  Beach 4 parking is on your left. This route takes about 3 hours and a quarter.

The other route is the northern route via Port Angeles.  This route heads out from Seattle to the Seattle – Bainbridge Ferry to Bainbridge Island.  Check ferry times here.  Then get on WA-3 N in Poulsbo from WA-305 N. Follow WA-104 W and US-101 N for 146 miles through Port Angeles and Forks until you arrive at Beach 4 parking on your right. This takes about an hour longer so only make sense if you’re planning to visit other attractions in Olympic National Park along the way.

Travel Insurance for Olympic National Park Kalaloch Washington Beach

Before you set out for Olympic National Park, you should definitely get travel insurance.  This can protect you against medical and emergency repatriation and cover things like trip cancellation, loss and/ or theft of property, etc.  

A great insurance option is Travelex.  It has coverage for all you’ll need. You can choose the best travel insurance plan for your trip here or get a quote right now:

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Enjoy Beach 4 Kalaloch Olympic National Park!

You might also like

>> Olympic National Park Guide
>> The Best Olympic National Park Beaches 
>> Rialto Beach – Hole In The Wall
>> Best Lake Quinault Rainforest Hikes
>> Best Hoh Rainforest Hikes 
>> Best Sol Duc Hikes 
>> Best Lake Crescent Hikes 
>> Best Hurricane Ridge Hikes 
>> Guide to Visiting Hurricane Ridge
>> Best Waterfalls in Olympic National Park

Do you have any tips for exploring or questions about Beach 4, Kalaloch Beach, Washington?  I’d love to hear about them.  Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more).

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Kalaloch Beach 4, Olympic National Park

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About the Author

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian is a national park, camping and hiking expert.

He has dedicated his life to travel, visiting more than 80 countries, all 7 continents and all of the main national parks in the United States. With over 35 years experience in the travel industry, James has worked on cruise ships, at resorts and hotels, and as a travel planner who’s helped hundreds of people plan successful trips to US national parks. 

Based on his experience visiting our national parks multiple times, in-depth research and expertise as a travel planner, James has published detailed itineraries for most of the major national parks in the US. These itineraries, as well as in-depth park guides, comprehensive camping and hiking gear reviews and buying guides, and helpful packing lists and gift guides will help you have your own incredible trip to US national parks without stress and hassle.

As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including Time Business News, Savoteur, Best Trip, and Wired.

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