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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

05/07/11 - Dungeness Spit

Work is continuing apace at Dungeness Spit. The new pavilion is taking shape. It should have new interpretive signage and provide a bit more shelter for the volunteers who greet visitors. The direct trail to the spit was closed, so we took the detour along the bridle path and got to see the sea spray in bloom. It's a longer route, but it has its rewards.

As for the spit itself, it seems to have gotten a bit rockier, but that may just have been our tired feet. The spit was as beautiful as ever as was the view of the mountains. We aren't ready for the lighthouse yet, but the tides have been good, so one of these days ...

The new visitor pavilion

The spit

The mountain view

The bridle path

Sea spray

Keywords: dungeness spit

04/11/11 - Dungeness Spit Update

There was another great low tide. We strolled out well past where the dinghy used to be, but nowhere near the lighthouse. Going was a bit rougher and rockier than last time but not a real problem. This time we couldn't blame it on the walking conditions.

That's us!

The view towardsthe mountains

The view towards the sea

Keywords: dungeness spit

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

09/09/10 - Death of a Dinghy

We aren't sure why the remains of that one mile landmark dinghy on Dungeness Spit required such careful demolition, but here is the team at work. The dinghy was convenient, but we'll make do with the one mile sign.

The last of the dinghy

Keywords: dungeness spit

08/25/10 - News from the Dungeness Mile Marker

There is a one mile marker on the Dungeness Spit, but we used to use the beat up half of a dinghy that was right next to the official marker as our mile real marker. This time we spotted the official mile marker, but where was our dinghy? Our "rib cage", an old driftwood tree with spiking branches, was still there, but the dinghy had vanished. We took a closer look and found a few bits, but our dinghy's days as a landmark are over.

The official one mile mark

That's Ribsy, our other one mile marker. It's showing its age.

It's less than half a dinghy now. Maybe it's a quarter deck?

Keywords: dungeness spit

07/26/10 - Sand Reckoning

We noted a while back that this does not seem to be a good year for sand on beaches, or on the Dungeness Spit. Still, the low tides tantalized us, so we went back, and this time there was a lot more sand. That made for easier walking. On our previous visit, we stumbled over rocks and stones. This time, we could just walk. Like many things this year, the sand was delayed.

The Dungeness Spit

Keywords: beaches, dungeness spit

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

06/04/10 - Dungeness Spit

Our last hike at Dungeness Spit was a real challenge. The beach was still at its winter worst with rocks and pebbles and stones and horribly soft sand. It was rough going. On our most recent hike, things were much better. There was a lot more firm sand and a lot fewer rocks, at least for the first mile or so. Then things got rough. Still, more sand and better footing is a sign of summer.

Some of the better footing

Poorer footing further out

Some of this driftwood looks like the ribs of a great beast.

The dinghy is our one mile landmark. The dinghy has been here for years.

More fantastic driftwood

The clouds loomed dark over the mountain.

We don't think the FDIC will be much help here.

Keywords: dungeness spit

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

11/05/09 - Dungeness Bluffs on the Move

The Dungeness Bluffs are on the march again. A modest section of the bluff trail was closed. We took a detour inland through the campground not wanting to experience the bluff collapse first hand. Yet another good argument against high bluff waterfront property.

Keywords: dungeness spit, trails

09/06/09 - A Visitor On Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit provides cheap day care for seal moms. It sounds like they are awful mothers. They drop their pups off on the spit and spend the day fishing. But, they come back in the evening to feed and take care of their little ones. We saw this little seal on the spit near the one mile mark, and he, or she, took all of us tourists in stride.

We should also note that the beach on Dungeness Spit is nice and sandy and good for hiking, even when the low tide is relatively high (around plus three feet). Needless to say, the views of the strait, the sky and the mountains are as spectacular as ever.


More cute

Even more cute

The view south

The view north

Keywords: dungeness spit

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