No need to head all the way to the Pacific if it's a good beach hike you seek. One of Washington's best saltwater strolls is along its "north coast, "the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Actually, this hike heads directly into the strait on the longest coastal spit in the continental United States. A narrow strip of sand, dune, and beached logs, the Dungeness Spit protrudes over 5 miles straight into the strait. Prone to breaching during storms, the spit is also resilient and well-established-and well-hiked and loved by those who explore it.
The Dungeness Spit was formed by wind and water currents that forced river silt and glacial till to arch into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Over the centuries the spit has grown to over 5 miles. You can hike all the way to the tip, where a lighthouse has been keeping guard since 1857. The extreme tip, however, like the Dungeness Bay side of the spit, is closed to public entry to protect important wildlife habitat. Because the spit is protected and managed as a wildlife refuge, many recreational activities are restricted. Please respect areas closed to public visitation.
Try to do this hike during low tide for easier walking. Lying within the Olympic rain shadow, the spit receives less than 20 inches of rainfall annually, making it a great winter destination when surrounding areas are socked in. Pack your binoculars too, as the bird-watching is supreme. Over 250 species have been recorded on the spit and in Dungeness Bay, including many that are endangered or threatened. Marbled murrelets, harlequin ducks, and snowy plovers frequent the area.
Follow the refuge trail 0.5 mile through cool maritime forest. Before descending to the beach, take in sweeping views of the spit from an overlook. Now drop 100 feet, emerging at the base of tall bluffs and at the start of the spit. It's a straightforward hike to the lighthouse. Pack plenty of water and sunscreen. If the 11-mile round trip seems daunting, any distance hiked along the spit will be rewarding.
• Trailhead GPS coordinates: [masked], [masked]
• Parking fee: $3 per family, which probably translates to $3 per car. The only passes that will work are "America the Beautiful", "Interagency Senior", or "Interagency Access"
• ETA at trailhead: 9:10 AM. That assumes that we leave the P&R at 7:15 AM.
• Chuck's car: Black Jeep
• Chuck's cell: [masked]
Disclaimer: Trailside is not a professional guide service. Our leaders function, as facilitators only, to enhance your outdoor experience. Reports of trail and weather conditions are based on best available information, are subject to change, and are no guarantee of fitness for any particular purpose. You may join us on this hike at your own risk. Keep in mind that hiking involves risks and weather changes quickly in the mountains. You are responsible for your own safety and the more prepared you are, the better the chance you will remain safe.
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