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Dungeness Spit

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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.

If you head south from the trail, you can wander for over a mile on oft-deserted beaches under golden bluffs. Mount Angeles hovering in the distance may very well lure you this way. No matter which way you venture, expect some of the best beach hiking around.
Driving Directions:

From Sequim head west on US 101 for 5 miles. (From Port Angeles drive east for 12 miles.) Turn right (north) at milepost 260 onto oddly named Kitchen-Dick Road. At 3.3 miles, Kitchen-Dick sharply turns right, becoming Lotzgesell Road. In another 0.25 mile, turn left on Voice of America Road (signed "Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Dungeness Recreation Area"). Proceed through the Clallam County park and campground, and in 1 mile come to the trailhead. Water and restrooms available.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 46 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Dungeness Spit — Apr 20, 2014 — Deepak Kumar
Day hike
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Led a 12-person hike to the lighthouse for the Seattle Mountaineers. Description on the web site...
Led a 12-person hike to the lighthouse for the Seattle Mountaineers.

Description on the web site needs some corrections.

No permit or pass of any kind is required for parking at the trail head. Entry fee is $3 for every 4 people in the group.

There is plenty of water and a bathroom at the lighthouse.

Try to go during a minus tide, which will allow you to hike on packed sand instead of the rocks brought down by the Dungeness river estuary.

Always check the marine forecast for Central Juan De Fuca before going. It would not be a safe place in a gale.

There is a very exposed hike with no shade anywhere. On a sunny day, make sure you have sunscreen and headgear on. On a cold windy day, a wind jacket would be essential.
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Dungeness Spit — Apr 06, 2014 — Meredith
Day hike
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We didn't think that we would do the whole thing, but since the weather and tides were perfect, we t...
We didn't think that we would do the whole thing, but since the weather and tides were perfect, we thought, "why not?" It was a trek, but we were delighted to find that the lighthouse was staffed and had a lovely picnic area, a small interpretive museum, and a very clean bathroom complete with flush toilet. There were a few families at the lighthouse when we got there, but the place was far from crowded. A delightful hike!
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Dungeness Spit — Feb 22, 2014 — INB
Day hike
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Well, there is not much to say about this destination as such, but it for sure is a year round desti...
Well, there is not much to say about this destination as such, but it for sure is a year round destination, for all levels and ages, not to mention to stay in shape especially during the cold season, for those like me, who do not snowshoe or barely hike the mountains that time of the year.

I hiked here in the last four month tree times. Back in November 2013, I did not go far, because it was extreme high tide and stormy. The waves were crashing like crazy against the spit, playing with the driftwood like it is some matchstick. And still it was -again- an experience to see it wild and elementary like this.

In January this year it started out being a sunny day, and just shortly after I reached the lighthouse, fog moved in and the views to the Olympic Mountains disappeared. It was extreme low tide when I packed up to hike back and not freezingly cold. So I took off my hiking boots and socks and hiked back barefoot almost all the way through the sand. Wonderful.

Interestingly the fog was only clinging over the Strait Of Juan the Fuca that day. Back later in Sequim, at around 1pm, it was all sunny, and one even could sit outside and enjoy the sun. And that in January.

Usually I start this hike early in the morning right after sunrise, when the park opens, there is no crowd, and I seek some solitude. This is also when one sees most of the wildlife, like bald eagles, many other birds I cannot name, not to mention being watched from the water by curious seals.

Today it was clouded all the way and drizzling, but not that bad, that I had to put on my rain jacket. And although I hiked here pretty often, saw in the past all types of wildlife, ships passing by, even a submarine convoy, took amazing pictures, I saw something new again, a deer family down on the water checking out the water. Incredible.

As well for the first time I noticed on my way back the 'Primitive trail' sign, so I checked it out. Well, it is still a pretty good trail, also on a rainy day, which one still would call highway in the mountains. But all of sudden one is just in a typical Olympic Peninsula Rainforest setting. And even here I was watched by a deer family today.

Usually I stop a lot to watch wildlife, to take pictures or to enjoy the sound of the waves. Today I just needed to walk to get my mind free a little, and made it an in-and-out hike. At 8:30 am I started, back at the parking lot I was at 11:15. So almost three hours for 11 (flat) miles, not bad.

.
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Dungeness Spit — Jun 08, 2013 — Shanti
Day hike
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To clear up some confusion and lack of information on the wta.org site: Dogs are not allowed on the...
To clear up some confusion and lack of information on the wta.org site:
Dogs are not allowed on the beach. The Fish and Wildlife refuge is situated between the parking lot (discovery pass needed) and the spit and don't allow dogs traveling through the area to reach the spit. You also need $3 in single bills for up to 4 people to pay the fee for the Fish and Wildlife refuge.
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Dungeness Spit — Apr 14, 2013 — Olygrywolf
Day hike
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Perfect day for the hike on the Dungeness Spit. Sunny and low winds throughout the day. Not very man...
Perfect day for the hike on the Dungeness Spit. Sunny and low winds throughout the day. Not very many people out on the lighthouse end.
Encountered more as we got closer to the trailhead end doing beach cleanup, and having fun in the sun.
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dungeness spit - trekkers c&h.jpg
Dungeness Spit. Photo by Trekkers C & H.
Location
Olympics -- North
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
Statistics
Roundtrip 11.0 miles
Elevation Gain 130 ft
Highest Point 130 ft
Features
Coast
Wildlife
User info
Good for kids
National Park/Refuge entry fee required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
USGS Dungeness
refuge maps available at trailhead

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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