Seattle Soundings – The Dungeness Spit

view down the spit

On the northeast corner of the Olympic peninsula and roughly two hours by road and ferry from Seattle, the Dungeness spit is a key component of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. At nearly 6 miles long and growing a few feet every year, the spit is a narrow, low lying arm extending into the Strait of Juan de Fuca but stable enough to support grasses on the side bordering the bay it created and a lighthouse out near the tip.

Access to the spit is via a trailhead reached by passing through a county park and a campground, then walking down a short pathway leading through a forested section at the top of the bluff down to the water. The primary trail is nearly a sidewalk, but there is a less-obtrusive “primitive” trail which can be taken for about half of the distance.

Once at water level, the trail ends and the spit begins. There is no path as such along the spit, but visitors are free to wander along the shingle between the crest and the strait side waterline (the bay side is closed to public access). At low tide this provides a reasonable are to walk along, but it could get quite narrow at high tide. For those interested enough to walk the roughly 12 mile round trip along the unimproved spit, tours of the lighthouse can be arranged.

There are certainly other places in the greater Seattle area with easier and better shoreline access, but there is something unique about standing on a thin strip of land jutting out into the ocean which makes a visit to the Dungeness spit worthwhile.

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