People around the world are attracted to the coast, and consequently one can find many noteworthy coastal trails on almost every continent. Here are links to a few.
[Send your favorites coastal trails to Coastwalk; we would also be pleased with photos for posting!]
- Olympic National Park, Washington: Coastal Trail
The Olympic penninsula has as glorious a coastline as exists in the world. But it is challenging walking. One example is Shi Shi to Ozette River Beach Travelway. It is among the several tidal routes and creek fords covering many miles of the coastline that the site describes. And not inappropriately for many of the coastal trails of the world we are reminded to: “Travel with tides. Headlands may not be passable except at low tides. A ford is necessary at Ozette River. Ford at low tide only. Ford can be hazardous during fall, winter and spring periods of heavy rain.” See also a short article from Backpacker Magazine (October, 2001) on the beach trail at Olympic NP.
- Nootka Island Coastal Trail, Vancouver Island – 21 miles
This trail is also described in: A Savage Coast by John Harlin. Backpacker Magazine, September, 2001.
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada, Vancouver Island – West Coast Trail, 47 miles.
Web introduction says in part: “The WCT is an internationally renowned historic route along sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, caves, sea arches, sea stacks and beaches that compose the stunning coastline of western Vancouver Island.”
It also says you must be prepared for “slippery conditions on muddy trails, wooden surfaces, boulders and rocky shorelines.”
- Western Australia – Bibbulmun Track, 600 miles
This trail crosses a variety of terrain from Kalamunda in the north to Albany in the south. The last part of the trail is coastal in nature.
The web description says of one coastal section that it is “as wild and rugged as can be found along the track, and offers challenging but rewarding walking.” Also “Williams Bay National Park offers tough beach walking, glorious rock pools and spectacular views…”
- South Africa, Tsitsikamma National Park, Otter Trail
The Otter Trail traverses the Indian Ocean's coast for 47 km and is described as one of the best in the world. It crosses a variety of terrain including uplands, beaches and rocky tidelands. It also requires wading river mouths and estuaries at low tide. The photos on the website show hikers scrambling on tidal rocks.
Here is a sample description from the website: “The first part of the trail to Ngubu hut is 4.8 kms long and normally takes about 3 hours to accomplish. This section contains quite a lot of boulder hopping and with full packs, care must be taken to prevent injury.”
- Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
A 1.5-mile stretch of beach is described as a section of trail that connects two dunes trails, making a loop.
- Australia, Queensland Heritage Trails Network. The Ulysses Link Walking Track, Mission Beach, 1.5 km
This is part of a track connecting several villages and historic sites. The trail is described in this way: “Named for the brilliant blue Ulysses butterflies, the 1.5 km Ulysses Link Walking Track winds its way along the breathtaking foreshore." "Hugging the Tropical North Queensland coast for about 15 km, Mission Beach takes in a handful of villages from Garners Beach in the north to Kennedy Bay in the south. Along the stretch are sleepy Bingil Bay, Mission Beach proper, Wongaling Beach and South Mission Beach."
- Oregon Coastal Trail, Gold Beach, Brooking, Boardman SP
The following is the introduction to the Gold Beach area: “Eventually the Oregon Coast Trail will traverse the entire 350 miles of the Oregon coast from border to border. Over 300 miles of the trail are already in use -- much of it along beaches -- but where the landscape demands it some segments of the trail go up over the headlands.”
From Exploring the Wild Oregon Coast, Bonnie Henderson, The Mountaineers Press, Page 201: “About 200 of the trail’s projected 400 miles are on sandy beach, requiring no trail construction.”
Regarding getting across river mouths, the author has this to say (p. 201): “…much of the highway hiking can be eliminated by arranging a boast shuttle across river mouths.” Page 202: “Most of the long highway-walking stretches of the Oregon Coast Trail are there just to get you around impassable river mouths. A quicker and more scenic alternate route is to pay a boat operator to shuttle you across. You ought to be able to arrange such ferry service at all the major bay mouth crossings: Nehalam, Tillamook, Netarts, Nestucca, Siletz, Newport, Siusla, Umpqua, Coos, Coquille and Rogue.”
- England, Cornwall, The South West Coast Path – 630 miles
Source: http://www.swcp.org.uk/ and http://www.ramblers.org.uk/index.html
This trail is almost entirely on the bluffs and hills overlooking the ocean. It is a famous and historic path connecting many towns and villages with historic sites and scenic areas.
South West Coast Path
- South Carolina, The African American Coastal Trail
This is a driving route visiting significant sites along coastal South Carolina.
- Florida, Cayo Costa State Park
The page referenced refers to hiking the beach:"even miles of wide, white beach, acres of pine forest, oak/palm hammock, mangrove swamp and a spectacular display of bird life characterize this unspoiled barrier island at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor. Hike the beach or interior trails by foot. Accessible only by private boat or ferry.”
- Florida, Titusville area and Cape Canaveral
The webpage refers to a number of hiking trails in the Titasville area, including Cape Canaveral.
- Cape Chignecto, Nova Scotia
From the website:"magnificent and striking landscape that rises from the restless tidal waters of the Bay of Fundy, carved and eroded into spires and pinnacles, an edge of the world kind of place.”
Cape Chignecto, the largest of Nova Scotia's Provincial parks, is a unique environment with old growth forests, ancient trees draped with mosses which cling to the coastal valleys (vestiges of a forest seen only by our forefathers). Red spruce tower within steep ravines and on the upper plateaus, wildflowers blanket the ground beneath forests of sugar maple. The Cape Chignecto peninsula is vital habitat for moose, white-tail deer, black bear and wild cats, and while they are wary of humans, it is not uncommon to see the flash of a stag leaping through the forest. Peregrine falcons can be seen swooping over the cliffs and in the coves large numbers of seals bask in the sun on rocky outcroppings during late summer.
..."towering 185-meter (600-feet) cliffs rise from the Bay of Fundy while the world's highest tides lap at their base. Located in Advocate Harbour, Cumberland County, Cape Chignecto includes 29 kilometers (18 miles) of pristine coastline, some of Nova Scotia's most significant geological features, deep valleys, sheltered coves, rare plants, remnant old growth forest, scenic views, and a rich cultural heritage.”
- The East Coast Trail, Newfoundland, Canada
From the website: "Winding along 400 km of Newfoundland's Coast, it clings to the outermost reaches of North America, past towering cliffs, high headlands, sea stacks, deep fjords, and even a natural geyser called The Spout.
Along the way, it visits forgotten communities and abandoned settlements, lighthouses and ecological reserves, historic sites, a 50 metre suspension bridge, and even an archaeological dig.
If the time is right, a humpback whale might break the surface of the North Atlantic and blow in the distance while a bald eagle soars overhead.“