Friday, March 9, 2012

Out and About - Cape Flattery, Washington

The most northwestern point of the contiguous United States, Cape Flattery is a wild, windy and awe-inspiring location. Just under eight miles from the small fishing town of Neah Bay on the Makah Indian Reservation in Clallam County, and a short hike through  gloriously beautiful evergreens, the view is well worth making the effort to visit.

This is where the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca meet. From the point, the southern coast of Vancouver Island in Canada is visible. Huge ocean-going vessels can sometimes be seen plying the waters, and looking minuscule in comparison to the vast ocean and the towering mountains to the north. It is also a location rich in history, some of which can be found here.

The trail to the point is beautiful in its own right. Tall evergreens and lush undergrowth capture your attention, as you anticipate the ocean vistas. The one-half mile trail has a gentle downward slope, making the trek relatively easy. The climb back up may be little tiring, but there are benches and picnic tables along the way to stop and rest, or just stop and soak up the peace and beauty. The trail was constructed by the Makah Indian tribe with a combination of grants through the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation. Over 900 hours of labor were donated by seven individuals, through the AmeriCorps project.

There are side trails leading to overlooks (with railing!) where you can stop and gasp at the grandeur of the scenes before you. The color of the water seems to belong in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, but there it is, right in the Pacific Ocean!

At the end of the trail from the final overlook, is a fabulous panoramic view! Directly off the point is Tatoosh Island, about one-half mile out, where the Makah had fishing and whaling camps. The lighthouse was commissioned in 1854, with construction beginning in 1857. It still stands, and is the northernmost lighthouse on the west coast of the United States.

This area is rich in history specific to the Coastal Native Americans, as well as the early sea-faring explorers from Europe. It is well worth the trek, and glorious to behold!
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