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09/15/14 - To The Lighthouse

The walk out to the the Dungeness Light is one of the amazing hikes of the North Olympic Peninsula. It's not completely obvious from the pictures, but it's a walk out to sea along a narrow strip of land. There is salt water on either side, but one walks for miles along the outer beach as it curves away from the mountains and out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.

We've been watching the tides at Dungeness Spit. There is usually a period from mid-autumn into mid-winter when the tides are just too high during the day to hike all the way out to the lighthouse without pulling oneself across soft sand and clambering over driftwood. Worse, during the winter, the sand washes away leaving a rocky beach behind. We decided to take advantage of this prime hiking time for our hike.

As you can see in the photos, we made it to the light. We did the full ten mile round trip in excellent time, well under four hours, thanks to a sandy beach and beautiful weather. We kept an eye on the sea and saw seals, seagulls, plovers, and sea ducks. The sky really was as blue as in the photos. Our next chance is not until February, and then only if the spit has some sand. Otherwise, it might not be until next summer.

The Dungeness Light

The curving spit

Our first view of the light

Beach flowers

A common flower

On the way back, mountains

A plover

More mountains and sea

Driftwood fashioned into a shelter

Keywords: autumn, ducks, dungeness spit, flowers, tides

05/30/14 - Dungeness Spit at Low, Low Tide

We've been having some really low tides at the Dungeness Spit lately, so there's been a lot of beach to walk on. There's lots of sand, and that made for good footing. Who knows? We might make it out to the lighthouse if we keep at it. We'll see what the next low tide brings.

The view out from where we turned around

The view back


A sea duck

A view of the spit from above

Salal flowers

More flowers

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

03/20/14 - Dungeness Spit Report

We have been having some great low tides, but the spit is rough going. There's lots of beach, but there are a lot of rocks as well. Hiking the Dungeness Spit is hard going in the best of conditions. There is nothing like wet sand to take the spring out of one's step, except perhaps for dry sand. Then there are the rocks, the pebbles and the stones, all of which make it hard to set a proper pace. Still, it is lovely out on the spit, so we'll keep coming back. If we're lucky, some more sand will come back as the season progresses, and we'll have better footing.

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

02/04/14 - Dungeness Spit - The Joys of High Tide

There are actually some good hiking tides at the Dungeness Spit this time of year. Check the left hand column of this blog for the up and coming. There are also some serious high tides, and the whole spit is different. There isn't all that much of a gap between the stranded driftwood and the water, and that gap is mainly small stones which make for hard going. We made it to the half mile mark and had a very nice work out doing so.

The half mile marker at high tide, usually way inland


A rocky beach

The half mile marker by the sea

The view south, pretty amazing

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

01/10/14 - Dungeness Spit

The autumn tides at Dungeness Spit are terrible for hikers. The day time low tides are often as high as the high tides which leaves just a narrow strip of rocky, gritty beach for walking. Winter, however, is different. Already, we are getting real low tides during daylight hours, and unlike some winters where most of the sand gets washed out to sea, this year there is a fair bit of sand which makes for good footing. We haven't made it all the way out to the lighthouse yet, but anything is possible in the new year.

A very clear view of Mount Baker

The tide was out and the beach was walkable

An even better view of the mountain

The Cascades to the north, beyond the San Juans

The view south, the Olympic Mountains

Keywords: autumn, dungeness spit, tides, winter

07/24/13 - Canoes Off Dungeness Spit

We were hiking a bit of the Dungeness Spit, taking advantage of the cool sea fog and extremely low tide. The gray of the fog cut the brightness of the sun, but also limited how far we could see. Despite this we had a nice view of several of the canoes manned by local Native Americans. We aren't sure which boats we saw, but we can imagine that the heavy sea mist isn't making the journey easy.

One of the canoes

The view back towards the mountains - Yes, there are mountains there, but you can't see them.

The view north

Another canoe

Here, at least, we can see the bluffs.

Keywords: dungeness spit

03/30/13 - Sunny Day and Low Tide at Dungeness Spit

Saturday was a perfect day at the Dungeness Spit. The low tide was negative a bit after noon, and the weather was sunny and warm. It may have been a bit bright for some, but for most it was a perfect spring day. The walking was fairly easy with a fair bit of sand, though there were some soft spots. Take a look at that sky in the photos, and you will wish you were there.

The view from the spit

The view of the mountains


Keywords: dungeness spit, spring, tides, weather

01/31/13 - Dungeness Spit - Let The Good Tides Roll

We're having some good tides at Dungeness Spit this winter. For example, there was a low tide below three feet around 12:30 today, and there was a lot of sand on the beach which made for easy walking. We saw a few eagles, a number of sea birds and the usual assortment of kelpies, that is, blobs of kelp that look like sea birds. There is another round of good tides coming up in mid-February, around Valentine's Day in fact, so we'll be watching our tide tables and hoping for good weather.

Keywords: birds, dungeness, dungeness spit, tides, winter, eagle

06/20/12 - Dungeness Spit - Good for Walking

There are two challenges involved in walking the Dungeness Spit.

First, you have to get the tides right. At high tide, all you have to walk on is a narrow strip of sand, rocks and driftwood. This gets tiring after two or three miles, and the lighthouse is about four and a half miles away. That's why we use Tidefinder to figure out the promising tides, during the daytime and under three feet.

Second, even when the tides are low, the going can be very rough when the beach is mainly small stones rather than sand. Usually, the sand is washed out in the winter and builds up through the summer. Some years, the beach stays rocky, but this year the sands have returned, and at low tide, there is usually a sweet strip one can walk on. It's hard work, but it's much easier than it could be.

Things look good this year, so tide and sand permitting we'll be making our way out to the lighthouse this summer.

The sandy beach

Driftwood and stones

Footprints in the soft sand

Keywords: dungeness, dungeness spit, software, summer, tides, winter

04/25/12 - Low Tide at the Dungeness Spit

There have been some really low tides at the Dungeness Spit recently. That means that there's been lots of beach there. Unfortunately, there are also lots of little stones. Still we managed to pick our way finding a not too rocky path across not too sandy or too wet and soft sand. We haven't made it out to the lighthouse yet, but we'll keep trying.

We also saw some salamanders on the walk down to the spit proper. This is a great season for spotting them right on the path.

The path to the beach

Lots of sand ...

... and lots of little stones

One of the little salamanders ...

... and another

Keywords: dungeness spit, salamander, tides

01/31/12 - Very High Tides at Dungeness Spit

The winter storms a few weeks back led to very high tides at the Dungeness Spit. We looked at our tide table and saw a seven foot tide, falling, so we imagined a narrow beach, but a passable one. When we got down to the beach we saw something else, no beach at all. The stormy weather had brought in an extra foot or two of water.

So, instead of a hike along the spit, we walked along the bluffs, and things were different here as well. We had noticed some serious erosion on our last visit, but it appears that an entire chunk of the old trail has collapsed into the strait, and a new trail has been routed inland.

So, on one nature walk, we were reminded of both the beauty and the power of nature.

The view back south

The view out on the spit - You can see how little beach there was.

Another view out

Another view of the spit, or what's left of it

The eagles don't seem to be bothered.

Some frost on the ground.

The new trail a safe distance back from the crumbling bluffs

A view of the mountains from the bluffs

They have a fence closing off the old trail, and it's just as well.

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, weather, winter, eagle

01/05/12 - Dungeness Spit

No, we didn't see any snowy owls either, but there were lots of people out looking for them on the Dungeness Spit. We did take advantage of the relatively good tides, and there are better tides to come later this month. You can check out our tide pages or just look at the fine print in the left margin of our home page. We also took advantage of the good weather. It's the Northwest, so we live for sunbreaks. It was wonderfully sunny and bright for most of our walk, but it was raining by the time we returned to the parking lot. That's typical.

It was a great way to start the new hiking year, 2012.

The tide was high, but going out, which made for good walking.

The view back of the mountains

Some kelp

The ridge of the spit

Amazing light and clouds and cloud shadows and reflections

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, weather

11/27/11 - Dungeness Spit at High Tide

If you read our web site, you'll know that we prefer coastal hiking when the tides are low, ideally at three feet or less, but this time of year has terrible hiking tides, so we decided to tackle the Dungeness Spit a mere hour after an eight foot high tide. According to our tide calculator, the tides were still over seven feet when we set out, so there wasn't much beach, and what there was was often blocked by driftwood. We set out grimly, clambering along that part of the spit we usually view from the beach below.

As it turned out, we went much farther than we had anticipated. There was a lot of driftwood, but we could get around most, either by heading upland or timing the waves and racing around the obstacle. Heartened by our progress, we made it out past the half mile marker which is usually well away from the water, but now had the waters licking its support logs. There were rocky stretches, but there were also good stretches of sand, so we continued. We made it safely past the one mile marker, much to our surprise.

The walk back was easier. The tides had gone out while we had headed onward. Yes, it is an easier hike at low tide, but we're pleased to report that the Dungeness Spit is still a great place to explore, even near high tide.

Lots of driftwood, not much beach

The view back

More driftwood

Driftwood decorated by nature

The stake, so impossibly far

One of the inland routes

One of our obstacles - We went inland here.

Driftwood decorated by man - also mountains

Arty, arty, arty

A rough stretch

The view as we departed

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

09/22/11 - Mediocre Tides at Dungeness Spit

We like hiking on Dungeness Spit, but the tides haven't been very good lately. Since the easiest walking is between the water and the high tide line, we plan our walks around low tide. Our best bet is a low tide of three feet or less sometime in the early afternoon. That just happens to be the magic number for us, but the daylight low tide is rarely that low these days.

Still, did manage to get a bit of a walk on the spit recently, mediocre tides notwithstanding. We didn't make it to the lighthouse, but we did make it to the two mile mark. The beach still has a lot of sand, so we didn't have to walk on a trail of pebbles and stones.

The next good low tides are in late January, but by then we expect the winter currents to have washed out the sand. We'll have to see. We have hopes.

For your convenience, we've posted the next good tides at three of our favorite coastal hikes in the left hand column of this page. Just scroll down to find them, or check our tide tables.

The Dungeness Spit

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

08/17/11 - Pacific Mist at Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit is a narrow strip of land that juts five miles out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. When Pacific mist has settled along the coast, visibility is minimal. On a clear day, one can see the San Juan islands and even Mount Baker, but when the mist settles in visibility can be measured in feet. We took a short walk along the spit, and very quickly we had no idea of where we were or how far we had walked. The familiar visual cues were gone.

The mist lifted as we walked, as it so often does towards the middle of the day. On our way out, we walked in a tiny sphere with the driftwood spine of the spit barely visible through the gray. On our way back, we could see farther and the driftwood was clearly visible. By the time we reached the climb from the spit to the bluffs, sunlight was breaking through and most dramatically.

Some of the driftwood, feathers and sea stone artwork - This was gone when next we passed the area.

Driftwood and mist

The mist lifting a bit, hence the blue

Light breaking through

More light

Looking down at the mist

Another view

And yet another to pad out the series

Yet more of the remaining mist

Keywords: dungeness spit, mount baker

05/30/11 - Dungeness Spit Update

It was a five foot tide, not exactly low, but the beach was surprisingly walkable. There was lots of sand, and the sand was firm, so we walked for a couple of miles, bird watching and beachcombing.

One of the eagles we saw

The view out

A dried starfish

Two mystery birds - Our bird atlas is no help.

Lush green along the redone trail to the spit

Keywords: dungeness spit, birds, eagle

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