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03/31/17 - Dungeness Spit Low Tides

There have been some pretty impressive low tides at the Dungeness Spit lately. Every two weeks or so the low tides are mid-day, so there is a lot of beach for walking. We've been taking advantage of it. (Check out our tide tables here.)

One of the newts on the trail

A big broad beach

A look back at the mountains

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides


05/10/16 - Really Low Tides at Dungeness Spit

There have been some really low tides at Dungeness Spit lately. They’re great for hiking. In general, if the low tide is above three feet, it will be rough going if one heads out to the lighthouse. The sand will be softer, and there will be lots of rocks. When the tide is lower, there is often a band of wet sand that makes for much easier walking. We’ve had some really low tides lately, as low as negative two feet at the mid-day low tide. This made for great walking, though we haven’t made it out to the lighthouse yet. As always along the coast, check the tide tables. A low tide can make your walk much easier.

The broad beach

The view south towards the mountains

A view from above

Mount Baker and its reflection

Green forest

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides


02/13/16 - Good Sand and Good Tides

A few posts back we noted that the good winter tides have returned at Dungeness Spit. Now the good sand is coming back. There are still a few rocky stretches but a lot more sand has been deposited which makes the spit a lot easier for walking. There are some good mid-day tides coming up on the 25th, 26th and 27th, so if you’ve been meaning to get out to the lighthouse, this may be good time to start planning.

The view out on a wintry day

The view back - Click for a better view of the mountains.

The view from above on the walkway down to the spit

Some driftwood

An eagle perched

Keywords: dungeness spit, eagle, tides, winter


01/14/16 - The Good Tides Return

The tides in the fall are not all that good for low tide hiking, but starting in January there are more and more daytime low tides. We took advantage of one such low tide to wander out on Dungeness Spit. The light, as usual on the spit, was spectacular. The clouds even had a touch of pink in them. The water was fairly calm and the beach surprisingly walkable.

One problem with walking the Dungeness Spit in the winter is that the beach has often lost all of its sand, so one has to scramble through fields of ocean smoothed rocks. There were plenty of rocks, but there were also lots of long, smooth sandy stretches. We'd clamber and clatter for a bit, then, usually just as we were about to call it quits, we'd reach a long easy going stretch of beach, so we went a lot farther than we had expected.

The beach changes from day to day with sand and stones washing in and out. The driftwood sojourns and departs, but it looks like the good tides and some good beach have returned for 2016.


The view heading out

A view of the water - Click to zoom and see if you can see a touch of pink in the clouds.

The view back with a low winter sun behind the mountains

Another view back with the low sun playing with the cloud shadows

Another view out

Waves and water

Some stones and some clear beach and some amazing place to be

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, winter


07/27/15 - To the Lighthouse

We walked out to the lighthouse near the end of the Dungeness Spit. There are good tides for taking this hike roughly every two weeks. You can walk out to the lighthouse, a ten mile round trip, at high tide, but that means walking on soft sand and clambering over driftwood. At low tide, there is lots of smooth, relatively firm beach, four and a half miles of it. (You'll see the next good tides for this hike if you scan the column to the left, you can look at our tide tables, or you can download Tidefinder.)

It was a particularly nice walk because of the good sand conditions, the low tide and the clouds. Walking on the spit is a strange experience, like walking out to sea dry shod. The spit is narrow, so one has a sense of being at sea, especially when one looks back at the mainland, miles away. There was lots of driftwood, including a few collections of logs still held together by straps for shipping, even as the wood has already started graying and weathering.

Dungeness Spit is worth a visit, even if you just take the half mile walk from the parking lot to the start of the spit or, perhaps, stroll another half mile to the marker stake. For the full experience though, wait for a low tide and take the long walk out to the lighthouse.


The lighthouse - visitors welcome

Our first glimpse of the lighthouse - Click to zoom in and scan the horizon towards the right.

Driftwood

Miles of wild beach

Gentle waves

A lost bale of timber

Another lost shipment

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides


04/27/15 - Dungeness Spit

There have been some good low hiking tides at Dungeness Spit. There isn't much else to say.

Lots of sand means easy walking.

That load of lumber is still on the beach.

A view of the mountains.

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides


01/28/15 - Third Beach

Now that we are getting the good winter tides, we decided to check out Third Beach out near La Push. Our last visit out this way was to Second Beach which features a lovely forest walk from the trailhead near the highway down to a wild crescent of beach adorned with rocks, sea stacks and tide pools. Third Beach is similar, but the forest walk is longer, over a mile before the descent. There are long level stretches where the rain forest forms almost a dry bog, very wet, but all the moisture absorbed by the rampant vegetation. Then there is the 200 plus foot descent to the beach.

The trailhead is near a stream that runs out to the sea here. There are glimpses of the sea stacks and ocean as one approaches. Then comes the wall of driftwood. Usually the wood is bare and aged, but this year we've had storms so there were a few freshly fallen trees in the heap. It was an easy clamber as clambering goes, and in a few minutes we were on the gritty sand. We headed left, to the east - the beach faces south - where we could see a row sea stacks, but first we had to cross the stream. It was deep and the current was fast moving, so we waded across down towards the sea where the flow widened.

From here it was easy going. As we approached the headland, we could see a waterfall splashing down the rocks. We paused to check out the rocks and tide pools and then continued. Despite the region's reputation for grayness, the sun was brilliant. We checked the bluffs for eagles but saw none. The bluffs behind Third Beach aren't as high as those at Second Beach, and there is a headland trail that leads to beaches south for those walking to Oil City, that is, other people, not us.

Walking on sand, even relatively well packed sand is tiring. When we got back to the trailhead, we saved our energy for the climb out rather than exploring the west end of the beach. Third Beach is a bit more of a workout than Second Beach, but just as rewarding.


A glimpse of the sea stacks, artfully framed a la the Northwest School

The driftwood barricade: Take it one log at a time.

The rushing stream: We waded down by the sea.

Rocks and sea stacks

Another view: Look carefully and you might see the waterfall.

Alders on the bluffs

Here you can definitely see the waterfall.

The view west, our return

A last glimpse

A spot of mud with a thoughtfully placed plank

Brilliant rainforest

Keywords: third beach, tides, winter, waterfall, eagle


01/11/15 - Dungeness Spit

It isn't easy hiking the Dungeness Spit in the late fall. In the day time, the low tides are almost as high as the high tides, but in January this changes. This means we have some good tides coming up this month on the 25th and 26th, then in February on the 9th, 10th, 11th and the 20th and 21st. You could even take a hike out the lighthouse.

Of course, tides aren't the only problem. Some years, the winter spit is all rocks and hard scrabble, so a ten mile round trip to the lighthouse is a bit of a challenge, but this year the winter spit is surprisingly sandy and smooth. We took a short hike out today and found it easy going. We didn't make it to the light, but we figured we'd spread the word about the good conditions.


Unprepossessing

OK, maybe it's gloomy in the photo, but it's prettier in real life.

There was no view of the mountains.

A view of the spit

The wild beach

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, winter


11/10/14 - Dungeness Spit Near High Tide

We usually hike the Dungeness Spit at low tide. There always seems to be lots of beach, and the piles of driftwood are way above the beach where we are walking. This time of year doesn't offer very many good tides during daylight, so we took a walk near high tide. This meant walking on the narrow strip of land around the piles of driftwood. There was some beach there, but the high tide and wild water made it rough going.

Not much spit

Rough going

The good tides come back this January. Stay tuned.

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides


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


06/16/14 - Along the Strait

We've been having some really low tides lately. This one was maybe -2 feet. That's negative two. We usually consider any tide below 3 feet good for hiking, so this is probably a great time for exploring the Dungeness Spit or one of the beaches out near La Push.

You can see the rocky beach.

More rocks that are usually under water, even at low tide

More rocks, looking east

Salmonberries

A green arch

Keywords: tides, morse creek


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

Driftwood

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

Driftwood

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


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

Driftwood

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


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