Cape Flattery – why the hell did I go there?
First off, where is Cape Flattery? Well, it’s on the Washington state coastline and is a long way from the nearest city, Seattle. By now after reading the last sentence, all of you have looked at Google Maps and wondered why the hell I wanted to go to Cape Flattery. It’s a simple and not so long story to explain, the simple truth of it was, that I wanted to cycle from Boston on the east coast to Neah Bay on the west coast (which is the nearest settlement to Cape Flattery, about six miles east) back in 2013 but the plan never got the go-ahead (needed a lot of money to do the trip and didn’t raise the necessary funds at the time). As I was exploring nearby Seattle, I opted for a road trip to Cape Flattery as a day trip.
Check out my Seattle – A glorious day in the Emerald City blog post.
First off, I couldn’t believe how long it took to get there. Getting there was a bit sluggish, traffic jams at a floating bridge, the morning traffic on the highway near Tacoma and then the long winding roads along the coastline as I approached Neah Bay (which took about one hour from the freeway). The journey seemed to take forever but I had exciting moments like another driver sticking up his finger at me for no reason whatsoever, patting a cute dog whilst waiting for a jam to clear and having a dodgy cup of tea at Starbucks.
Arriving at Neah Bay in the middle of the afternoon and managed to fit in a late quick lunch. This sleepy settlement looked like there was not a soul in sight. All I could hear was the crashing of the waves against the shore and the odd pick-up truck passing by. There seemed to be nothing to do here apart from have some food at the two restaurants and I think I saw a school. At the restaurant I told the waitress I was heading to Cape Flattery. Now as this was in a park (but not in a National Park), I was told I needed to pay $10 to go and park the car up there and this was the last chance to pay it.
Six miles up the hills later I parked up at a parking lot at the end of the road. There are some toilets here and information about the park. There were even handmade walking sticks to borrow for the hike. Now this is a comfortable hike for all people (but I wouldn’t go down the trail in a wheelchair or scooter). The path is smooth at first and goes through woodland but when the path goes down towards the cliff edge, there are tree roots and rocks to avoid tripping over.
Eventually I got to the cliff edge and there are various viewing points, a couple looking down to the south and seeing the rugged coastline, some to the north where I could see Vancouver Island in Canada (and it’s not that far either) and to the west in the big blue ocean, is the island Tatoosh Island where there is a lighthouse but I couldn’t see it due to the mist.
Now there is another reason why I wanted to come here. Cape Flattery is the most northwestern point on mainland USA (out of the forty-eight states not including Alaska and Hawaii) and was on my bucket list for a long time. Ok, there are other various points I want to go to in the USA to tick off but this one was one of them.
The hike took me about thirty minutes to get down to the cape and about forty to go back up. For me it wasn’t that hard but for those who find hiking through woodland difficult with a hill to go back up, then it is durable but allow more time. My drive heading back to Seattle was more pleasurable and I did it non-stop. No toilet breaks, no breaks for cup of tea’s out of Starbucks and no stops for photos of the beautiful woodland of the Olympic National Park. I am not sure if this appeals to everyone but if you are doing a road trip in the area, then I would say it is worth checking out this area, however it does gobble up most of the time of the day.