Are you planning a beach hike to Hole in the Wall on Washington’s Rialto Beach?
I explored this beach on a 78-degree, blue-sky day in early October, and it was spectacular.
Coastal forests, striking jagged rock formations, and impressive driftwood surround this landmark Olympic National Park destination.
In this ultimate guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about hiking the Hole in the Wall trail, complete with tips to make your adventure unforgettable.
So, let’s dive in!
Why Hole in the Wall on Rialto Beach is Worth Visiting
When I first stepped onto Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park, I was amazed at the amount of driftwood I saw and the beach’s natural beauty. Both ends of the beach are remarkably different.
You’ll see the nearby Quileute Tribe’s James Island, Little James Island, and other sea stacks on the beach’s south end.
But to get to Hole in the Wall, you must arrive close to the time of low tide and head north.
Hole in the Wall is a tunnel at the bottom of a massive rock. When the tide is out, you can walk through it and arrive at another stretch of rugged beach where tide pools teem with colorful marine life.
You can even climb on top of the rock, where you’ll get the best views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean.
Can you walk from Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall?
Yes, you can! But only if you’ve arrived within a time window of two hours before low tide or thirty minutes after low tide. It’s an easy one-and-a-half-mile walk one way along a gorgeous stretch of sand and pebbles, with driftwood lining the coastal forest.
As you near Split Rock, the uniqueness of this landscape is undeniable.
Hole in the Wall Beach Hike: Things to Know
This beach in Olympic National Park is open year-round. An Olympic National Park Pass is required.
Getting to Rialto Beach from Forks takes about twenty minutes. From Port Angeles, the drive is about ninety minutes.
Parking options include an asphalt lot and a gravel one.
I’ve found that toilet paper at the trailhead restrooms can be hit-or-miss, so bring some with you.
The beach is accessible from both parking areas, but you’ll likely have to walk over driftwood. Remember that conditions change from year to year.
A wheelchair-accessible ramp is available during the summer months.
⚠️Check the schedule for low tide. The ideal time to park is 1-2 hours before low tide. This gives you enough time for the beach hike and to explore the tide pools around Hole in the Wall.
- Hike length: 3.3 miles roundtrip
- Elevation gain: 108 feet
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, depending on conditions
The hike begins at the parking lot, and there is no set trail because you can take any route you’d like on the beach!
Ellen Creek is about a mile north. Crossing Ellen Creek wasn’t an issue when I did this beach hike. But I’ve read trip reviews of other hikers having to walk across a log or through water. So be prepared for that.
What You’ll See
James Island and Little James Island stand proudly in the water towards the left, the beach’s southern end.
But walking north to Hole in the Wall is the main event on Rialto Beach.
You’ll see dead trees standing at the edge of the coastal forest called snags. I stopped to take photos of an eagle perched on top of one, probably surveying the water for its next meal.
Near Split Rock, you’ll marvel at rocks of varying shapes and sizes jutting out of the sand.
When I visited, even though it was low tide, the water did not go out far enough to cross through Hole in the Wall safely. But the surrounding landscape is otherworldly and still worth visiting.
Walking from Split Rock to Hole in the Wall is an incredible experience. Both rock features are immense and impressive.
Waves roll in and out as birds fly above and around you.
You can walk over rocks to get closer to Split Rock. Architecturally, it’s more imposing than Hole in the Wall and makes for a more striking photo against the backdrop of a blue sky.
And from the base of Split Rock, you get great views of Hole in the Wall.
As I continued my journey, I saw a couple walking along the side of the massive landmark rock. I asked the woman if it was easy, and to my surprise, she said no! A man and his toddler child were attempting the short route, and I thought, if that toddler can do it, I can.
At the trickiest part, I took my sandals off to grip the rock better, and thankfully, my backpack had an easy-to-access pocket where I could put them.
I kept reminding myself to be extra careful, knowing that a woman had died on this beach just a few weeks ago during stormy weather. The park had been closed to visitors because the weather was so terrible.
The currents here are powerful. Some are so strong they can easily take you out into the ocean. Always be cautious on Olympic National Park beaches.
For my daring efforts, I was able to snap this photo.
You see the beach you can walk if you make your way through Hole in the Wall, which many say features the best tide-pooling on Rialto Beach.
With the help of a bit of adrenaline, I quickly made my way back safely to shore as waves crashed against the rock beneath me.
Best View on Rialto Beach
Back on the beach, it’s easy to spot the trail that takes you to the top of the rock, where you get this view.
Be careful as you ascend the steep path. There’s not much to hold onto to remain steady.
It’s so worth it to take the time to travel up this path because you also get an incredible view of the beach beyond Hole in the Wall.
What to Bring
I did this beach hike on a hot and sunny day in October and wore my Teva sandals. A significant portion of this walk is over pebbles. Not only did I sink into the pebbles, but they’d get stuck in my sandals.
Don’t make the same mistake I did! Wear sturdy, closed-toe hiking shoes.
Other items to bring are listed below:
- Backpack: Great for storing clothing layers, water, and snacks.
- Sun Hat: Protect yourself from UV rays, even on overcast days.
- Filtered Water Bottle: Stay hydrated and re-fill as long as you’re near a water source.
- High-Energy Snacks: I always keep savory and sweet snacks in my backpack while I hike.
- Trekking Poles: Helpful to stay balanced as you move over slippery rocks.
- Camera: My iPhone takes great photos, but my Canon takes even better ones.
How to Get to Rialto Beach
From Seattle, you have a couple of scenic routes to choose from.
Before planning your route, check the park service’s website for road closures.
The fastest way is to drive south through Tacoma, then head north on the 16 to Kitsap County. You’ll cross the Hood Canal Bridge to get to the Olympic Peninsula and take the 101 N to the 110 to head west to the beach.
Alternatively, you can take the ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island to add another element to the journey. You’ll see views of majestic Mount Rainier on a clear day.
You’ll pass through Port Angeles and Lake Crescent, where you can pull off the road for excellent views.
Another option takes you to Quinault, at the southern part of Olympic National Park, and a fantastic stop to experience the beauty of a rainforest. From Quinault, you’ll head north on the 101 to Forks, then take the 110 W.
Either way, plan for 4 to 4.5 hours of travel, depending on traffic, and always factor in possible delays like ferry wait times or summer tourist traffic.
As you near the parking lots, you’ll see captivating views of the river that will tempt you to pull over and snap a few photos.
Rialto Beach Parking
Rialto Beach offers two types of parking areas to accommodate visitors: one is a paved asphalt lot, and the other is a more rugged gravel lot. Both are just a short walk away from the trailhead.
During my weekend visit, I noticed the asphalt lot filled up quickly, but many spots were available in the gravel lot.
Rialto Beach Accommodations: Where to Stay
This area of the Olympic Peninsula has accommodations for every kind of traveler.
I highly recommend spending at least one night because Second Beach, the best beach in Olympic National Park, is less than twenty minutes from Rialto Beach.
Mora Campground is a delightful campground five minutes from Rialto Beach. Camping spots here are on the smaller side but offer good privacy. The grounds are well-maintained, and the bathrooms are clean.
Forks is a 15-minute drive away and offers a range of hotels and motels. It’s the closest town with essential amenities. I stayed at the Pacific Inn Motel for one night and was impressed by its cleanliness and how well I slept.
La Push is a coastal community on Quileute Tribal Land, about a 30-minute drive from Rialto. I highly recommend staying at Quileute Oceanside Resort, which has everything from tent and RV spots to deluxe cabins. It’s located on First Beach, another fantastic beach.
Quillayute River Resort is just ten minutes away from Rialto Beach and has six clean and comfortable suites. Guests rave about this charming resort and its gracious hosts and consider it a hidden gem in the La Push area.
Wherever you choose to stay, I recommend making reservations many months in advance, especially if you plan to travel during the summer when the Olympic Peninsula is a popular destination for nature lovers.
I’ve had luck booking last-minute hotels in Port Angeles, but it’s not wise to count on it!
Hole in the Wall Beach Camping
This destination is a dream for backpackers because of the short distance from the parking lot to camping spots on the beach.
Permits are required, available here. Plan to secure this well in advance, especially during peak season.
You’ll find designated camping areas near Hole in the Wall that offer protection from the wind.
Fires are allowed in existing fire rings or on the beach. Driftwood is the only wood you can burn, not wood from the forest.
Per National Park guidelines, you must store all food, waste, and fragrant items like toothpaste in a park-approved bear canister overnight and any time you step away from your campsite.
There are bathrooms near the parking lot, but I always bring blue bags when I camp.
The most important thing is to camp above the high tide line, or you risk waves coming in and washing away your camp!
The second most important thing is to boil or filter any freshwater you collect to avoid catching a parasitic disease.
Bring a garbage bag big enough to fit all of your garbage. Please leave no trace behind you after you camp, ensuring that this wild place remains as you found it.
Hole in the Wall Beach FAQs
Below are answers to the most common questions from first-time visitors.
How long does it take to get to Hole in the Wall?
The hike to Hole in the Wall from the Rialto Beach parking area is about one-and-a-half miles one way, taking most visitors approximately 30-45 minutes. However, the time will vary depending on how often you stop to admire the scenery and take photos.
When I did the hike, I had to stop a few times to shake pebbles out of my sandals. I also stopped to take photos of sea stacks and birds, but I got to Hole in the Wall in 45 minutes.
Can you get to Hole in the Wall during high tide?
You cannot walk to Hole in the Wall at high tide. The window of time that you can do this hike is about four hours. Ideally, arrive at the parking lot 1-2 hours before low tide to give yourself enough time to hike one way, explore the tide pools, and then hike back.
The beach becomes more challenging and possibly dangerous as the tide comes in.
If caught in this situation, climbing on top of driftwood to avoid the water may seem like a good idea, but it’s not. Stay off logs when the tide comes in because they can roll into the water, taking you with them!
Also, remember that how far the tide goes out at low tide varies. When I visited at low tide in early October, the water level was too high to walk through Hole in the Wall. But I still had an amazing experience.
Can you swim at Rialto Beach?
There are no lifeguards on Olympic National Park beaches. I don’t recommend swimming at Rialto Beach due to its strong currents, frigid water temperatures, and unpredictable waves. However, removing your shoes and getting your feet wet on a hot day is a great way to cool off.
Remember to face the ocean; never turn your back on it!
Is Rialto Beach dog-friendly?
Many people walked their dogs on Rialto Beach when I was there, but not past Ellen Creek because it’s prohibited. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.
Wrap-Up: Hole in the Wall Washington
Hole in the Wall on Rialto Beach is an unforgettable beach hike in Olympic National Park, where you’ll see gnarly driftwood, sea stacks, and an otherworldly rocky landscape.
For the best possible experience, time your visit to arrive close to low tide so you can walk through the tunnel and explore tide pools and another fantastic beach.