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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

03/29/11 - Dungeness Spit

One of the strangest places to hike on the North Olympic Peninsula is the Dungeness Spit. It is a sand spit that juts out for miles into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, and on a good day with low tides it can be a spectacular walk, almost like walking out to sea. We had some good weather and some good tides recently, and we can report that the beach sand has been coming back nicely. The hiking was a bit tiring, as hiking on sand always is, but the footing was good and the way generally smooth. The scenery was as magnificent as ever, with the brilliant meringue of Mount Baker in the distance and the nearby Olympic peaks visible to the south. There's no need to say much more. We'll let the pictures do the talking.

Work in Progress The last time we were at the spit, the park service had closed the usual trail from the parking lot to the spit. The trail has been reopened, regraded, and partially rerouted. They always do a good job of hiding the old pieces of trail when they reroute things. Knowing the old trail, we managed to spot the suspicious alignment of trees, but in a few years we'll probably unable to spot even that.

Mount Baker over the driftwood, one of the many magic mountains of the Northwest

The beach and the islands - easy going

Hurricane Ridge and its friends peeking out above the clouds

Another view of the Olympics

The trail back - construction in progress

More construction and repair

This was the old trail from the parking lot to the spit, now expertly camouflaged.

Keywords: dungeness spit, mount baker, tides, weather

02/08/11 - Dungeness Spit Detour

We've been having some good tides at the Dungeness Spit lately, so we decided to take a stroll by the sea. To our dismay, we were greeted by an orange mesh and signs indicating that the trail was closed. Luckily, the bridle path is still open, so we took a detour. The horse trail is a bit longer than the usual, but we were well rewarded. We got to see the first Indian plum blossoms of the year, our first sign of spring.

The beach was fairly good walking. There were lots of rocks, but also a fair bit of firm wet sand. There weren't a lot of those strips and piles of loose stones that are nearly impossible to walk on. Despite this, we didn't get all that far, probably because we are lazy. Still, the sea, the sand and the sky were worth the walk. Eventually we'll get back to the lighthouse, but we are in no hurry. There are still lots of good tides ahead of us.

Welcome to the spit!

The first sign of spring

The bridle path is more open than the usual trail this time of year.

The spit, looking north

The spit, looking back

Keywords: dungeness spit, spring, tides

12/29/10 - Dungeness Spit - Tides and Sand

For a while there were terrible hiking tides at Dungeness Spit. If there was a low tide at all during the daylight hours, it was perhaps a foot or two above the high high tide. That meant that there wasn't much beach for walking, high tide or low, so we stayed away. More recently, the real low tides have returned, so we took advantage of one recently.

Sometimes it is hard to hike the spit even at low tide, because the beach is too rocky. When the sand washes out, as often happens in winter, it can be rough going. This year things look better. The tides were low, and there was a good sandy beach for hiking. We didn't go far, just a bit past the one mile marker, but there are some more good tides in two weeks. We'll try again.

The Dungeness Spit as seen on the climb out

Looking north

Looking south

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, winter

07/01/10 - Dungeness Spit Rocks

The Dungeness Spit tides have been pretty good lately, but the beach has been rough going. Usually, the sand washes out in the autumn, but washes back in by the summer. This year there just hasn't been all that much sand. We aren't the only ones to notice this dearth. The Ocean In View blog noted a similar lack at Second Beach.

We've never seen a starfish, dead or alive, on the Dungeness Spit before.

The view outward on the spit - plenty of rocks

More rocks

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

03/05/10 - Dungeness Spit - The Rocks Are Back

We took advantage of the good tides and sunny weather to hike along Dungeness Spit. The tide was low, but the beach was rocky, with a lot of erosion. We've walked the spit when it was worse, but it was rough going.

We also noticed a bird survey team. They puttered along in one of the beach jitneys. Then they'd stop, lug their spotting scope up to the refuge border and take notes for a while. The outside of the spit is for us walkers, but the inside is for the wild birds who breed there. This is just as well. As rough going as the beach was, the going looked even rougher on the other side.

The bird surveyors

The view out

The view back

Keywords: birds, dungeness spit, tides

02/04/10 - Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit is not always an easy hike. The tides vary by eight feet in a typical day, and during high tide the beach is not only small, but rocky. In the winter it is worse. Not only are there fewer good tides, but the winter tides often wash out the sand, so even at low tide, it can be rough going.

This year, however, is a good year for hiking the Dungeness Spit. The beach is broad and sandy, so it is easy to avoid all the rocky patches. The strait is full of seabirds, loons, scoters, cormorants and many others beyond our limited identification skills. Oh yes, there are eagles, lots of eagles. There's no point in waiting for spring to hike the Dungeness Spit. It's good walking even now, and, as a bonus, the Indian plum is already in bloom.

An eagle

Dungeness Spit

Indian plum in bloom

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

08/10/09 - To The Lighthouse

We didn't time the tides perfectly, but we made it out to the New Dungeness Light and couldn't help noticing the changes. The beach is much sandier than it has been, and that made for easier going. The sandbar out past the turn where the lighthouse becomes visible seems to have disappeared, but the big news is that it is once again possible to approach the lighthouse from the beach. For a while the beach had been so eroded that you had to cut inland and approach by the route they use for the beach buggies. It is nice to have the old approach back.

For a bit of history, you can click on the Dungeness Spit keyword.

The approach to the lighthouse

The lighthouse and its lawn

More beach

More sky

Orange fungus on the trail up to the bluffs

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

07/28/09 - Dungeness Spit

It wasn't the lowest of low tides. In fact, it was about four feet above the reference mark, but the Dungeness Spit was surprisingly walkable. Sure, we were up near the driftwood barrier, but the sand was well packed, and there was enough of it so we didn't have to walk on those sea smoothed pebbles. There were also sea mammals on display, a seal and an otter. Both reacted promptly to the click, or perhaps the whirr, of our digital camera, so we have no pictures. You'll have to head out yourself and keep your eyes on the sea.

The beach at Dungeness Spit

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides

06/17/09 - Cape Alava - Rough Going

We were out at Cape Alava to take advantage of the good tides. The trail is much as we remembered it, amazingly green, rising and falling, then opening out to the meadows before descending to the sea. The park service has done some good work repairing the boardwalks which were getting a bit spotty, so the three plus mile walk from the Ozette Ranger Station to Cape Alava was easier than the last time, but the three miles along the beach from Cape Alava to Sand Point were harder. The beach was rough going with much more driftwood and much less sand. Much of the walk was on rocks and stones. At least the seaweed was dry, and nothing was very slippery. We made our way from fallen tree to fallen tree, passing through their branches like the ribs of a great carcass. There were no stretches of smooth sand until we were nearly at Sand Point.

The trail to Cape Alava

View of Cape Alava

The tide was out.

Rocks and stones.

At the edge of the world

Yes, the tide was out.

A seastack with roses

A great deal of driftwood

A parting view

Tiarella and mushrooms

A great deal of Pacific dogwood

Keywords: cape alava, tides

05/12/09 - Hazy Day On Dungeness Spit

There were some good tides at Dungeness Spit, so we decided to make the most of them. The day was sunny inland, but there was a sea haze out on the spit. There were also salamanders on the trail down. The beach itself was broad, but surprisingly rough going with lots of rocks and soft sand. We didn't get as far as we had hoped, but we did enjoy our visit.

If you want to explore the spit yourself, check the tides on our tide pages, or just follow the column to the left of this article. Down towards the bottom is a list of the next good tides at Dungeness, La Push and Cape Alava.

One salamander ...

The descent to the spit

... and another

The beach ...

... and just some of the rocks

Keywords: dungeness spit, salamander, tides

05/01/09 - Springtime at Second Beach

Second Beach is also showing signs of spring. There was a good low tide, so we went exploring. To start with, the beach is huge. The spring tides bring in sand, so we had lots of beach to explore, and the rocks and caves at the south end of the beach were easy clambering since so many of the rocks have been buried and little pools filled in with seasonal sand. There were also a lot more starfish and anemones, or at least more anemones visible.

A little starfish

The big beach

Starfish waiting out the low tide

We'll call these cocktail olive anemones.

This is a hollow tree an the trail to the beach. People have placed shells on its shelves as offerings.

Skunk cabbage in bloom

Now that we've been sensitized we are seeing trilliums everywhere.

Keywords: second beach, spring, tides, trillium

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