A Hike to the “Spit”

Port Angeles, WA

Late last week Eric and Laurel moved from Salt River, about 10 miles west of us, to Dungeness County Park, about 20 miles east of us near the town of Sequim.  Laurel contacted us and said that when you are in the Sequim area a hike out to the Dungeness Light House is something you have to do.   They were going to do it the next day and invited us to join them.  We couldn’t find the regulation to which she was referring but, since we didn’t want to break any local laws, we agreed to join them.

The lighthouse is located near the end of the Dungeness Spit.  A spit (or sand spit) is beach landform off coasts or lake shores. It develops from the process of longshore drift by longshore currents. The drift occurs due to waves meeting the beach at an oblique angle, moving sediment down the beach in a zigzag pattern.  Dungeness Spit is a 5.5 mile  long sand spit jutting out from the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is the longest natural sand spit in the United States,

There’s a lighthouse out there somewhere!

The best time to hike out to the lighthouse is at low tide when the beach is most exposed.   On the day of our hike low tide occurred at 11:30 AM, so we met Eric and Laurel at 9:30 to insure we would have good conditions for both the hike out and the return back.

Lauren killed this sea monster before it attacked us

Finally, the lighthouse comes into view over Eric’s left shoulder

We arrived at last

“Welcome to Serenity”

The New Dungeness Light was first lit in 1857 and was the second lighthouse established in the Washington territory following the Cape Disappointment Light of 1856.  Originally, the lighthouse was a 1½-story duplex with a 100-foot tower rising from the roof.  The tower was painted black on the top half and white on the lower section.  Over time, the tower developed structural cracks, most likely from a combination of earthquakes and weather erosion.  In 1927 the cracks in the tower were so severe that they feared that the tower would topple. It was decided that the tower would be lowered to its current height of 63 feet.  With the new tower dimensions, the original fresnel lens was too large for the tower.  To save costs, the lantern room from the decommissioned Admiralty Head lighthouse on nearby Whidbey Island was removed and placed atop the shorter tower.  

Dungeness Lighthouse had a full-time keeper until 1994.  Since then the Coast Guard has maintained the light itself, but the rest of the facility is operated by members of the New Dungeness Light Station Association.  Members “volunteer” to spend a week at the lighthouse giving tours and performing general maintenance tasks.  Eight people at a time pay $375 for the honor of living with 7 other members in the caretaker house for a week.   Our guide, Mitch, was taking a week’s vacation from a corporate position in Los Angeles.  Although he had only been there two days, he told us he was really enjoying the experience.

Mitch tells us about the lighthouse

The light, a Vega rotating beacon

Looking down the spit from the tower

The photo below shows land on the spit beyond the lighthouse.  When the lighthouse was first constructed it was at the very end of the split.  But the split grows a bit every year so the lighthouse is no longer at the end.

Time to head back

Lined up for take-off

We made it!

Eleven miles of hiking with ten on a long rocky beach is a bit much (A half mile hike through the Dungeness Wildlife Preserve begins this adventure which accounts for the extra mile).  But a visit to the cool lighthouse at the end of the spit made it all worthwhile.  Plus hiking with Eric and Laurel made the miles go by quickly.

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29 Responses to A Hike to the “Spit”

  1. This is so cool! Do they take 4 wheelers or something out when they work there? Would love to go visit someday!

    • placestheygo says:

      They do take the volunteers out to the lighthouse in some type vehicle at low tide. But they don’t leave a vehicle there. They return to pick you up at low tide when your week is finished.

  2. Laurel says:

    I’m so glad you guys decided to come with us — I’m not sure we would have done it without you. Your company made the miles fly by! By the way, I learned much more from reading your post than I did from our actual tour of the lighthouse. 🙂
    We covered a lot of ground in our week of hiking together — the rainforest, high mountains, and beach. It was fabulous! (LOL I protected you from that evil sea monster!) We’re already missing hiking with you!

    • placestheygo says:

      We did have three fabulous hikes together. I’m so glad you decided to do the Spit; that pushed us to do it. We would have been disappointed if we hadn’t joined you. It was an easy 11 miles and the company definitely made the time pass quickly.

  3. libertatemamo says:

    That was my FAVORITE hike when we were in that area. So lovely to see it all again through your lens, and what a treat that you got to go with Laurel and Eric!


    • placestheygo says:

      Nina, it was Suzanne’s email that had us thinking we really had to do this hike. She explained how much she enjoyed going with you and how neat it was. And with low tide at 11:30, how can one resist!

  4. I couldn’t talk our hiking group into going all the way to the lighthouse when we were there, but I am happy to see that you made it. Looks like you had a good time with Eric and Laurel. We are hoping to meet them one of these days.

    • placestheygo says:

      Laurel and I were going back and forth about whether to go or not. I am so glad we decided to go for it. The 11 miles wasn’t difficult at all and with great company, the time flew by. Hope your path crosses with Eric and Laurel one day. You will definitely enjoy them.

  5. Thanks for taking us along with you on your hike to lighthouse. So cool you got to see it up close and go to the top. When we were there ten years ago we had dinner at the 3 Crabs Restaurant, saw the lighthouse, and watched a gorgeous sunset there. Is the restaurant still there?

  6. Sherry says:

    What a great pictures. Love the one of the spit and the ones of the lighthouse. This is my kind of day. Great friends, beautiful ocean hike and a cutie of a lighthouse. Laurel definitely knows all the regulations so I’m very glad you complied and that she saved you from the monster, all so I could read this. Hats off to all of you for an 11 mile hike. WOW!

  7. pmbweaver says:

    Thanks for the explanation of what a spit is. I hadn’t the slightest idea.
    I love lighthouses. What a cool and very different hike. Eleven miles is a looooong way but what an experience. Thanks for all the super photos.

  8. It’s great to have extra companions on such a long flat walk. We did only part of the spit with friends and were happy with that! It’s such a beautiful area.

    • placestheygo says:

      We were all surprised by how easy the hike was and how quickly time passed. It was a fun different adventure. So glad we didn’t pass up the opportunity with such a low tide.

  9. geogypsy2u says:

    Yet another great hike made better with the company of friends.

  10. Jodee Gravel says:

    So glad you have good friends to save you from monsters and rule breaking! Love the line up for take off :-))) Fascinating that the spit is getting longer – eventually it must become an issue for ships given that the light isn’t at the end. Paying to work for a week……it has to be a pretty fun job!!

    • placestheygo says:

      It will be interesting to see what happens with the growing spit. Nothing was mentioned about moving the lighthouse. We talked about the idea of paying to work at the lighthouse and staying in a house with strangers for a week. Definitely different!

  11. Suzanne says:

    I am delighted that you made it to see the beautiful lighthouse! Like Nina said, it was one of my fondest memories of my 2014 trip to the PNW. A lengthy hike along the shoreline can be as much of a workout for the mind as the body. Glad you decided to go for it, in hopes that the uniqueness leaves a lasting impression as it did for me. I enjoyed reliving it through your lens.

  12. Debbie L says:

    Oh we’d love to walk this beach and see the lighthouse! Thanks for the great tour and education. Fascinating and great pictures as usual!

  13. Jim and Barb says:

    Sequim is our favorite area in the entire state. Love the scenery, the water, the minimal rain….. We did not get out to do much sight seeing as we have a friend in the area and spent our time visiting. We will be back however!

    • placestheygo says:

      We are enjoying our time here on the Peninsula, especially the consistent weather in the 60’s. This is my idea of hiking weather. We’ve only had one drizzly, misty hike.

  14. With Eric and Laurel as your hike buddies, the 11 mile for sure just went by quickly despite the rocky terrain. I would love to do this walk/hike, perhaps someday when we revisit the peninsula in better weather.

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, you and Steve would really enjoy this hike. This has been a wonderful time of year to visit. We have had sunshines every day and the temps have stayed in the 60’s which is nice for hiking. You really do need to revisit when the weather is nicer:)

  15. Pingback: Hiking to the top of Maiden Peak | Oh, the Places They Go!

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