The Olympic Peninsula is home to the longest natural sand spit in North America. The Dungeness Spit just north of Sequim boasts breathtaking views, rich maritime history and an abundance of wildlife. It stretches nearly seven miles north into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and continues to grow by around 13 feet each year. Hiking the Dungeness Spit is a rewarding experience for all levels of physical ability.
Considered the gateway to the Dungeness Spit, the 216-acre Dungeness Recreation Area is a good place to start your adventure. The Clallam County Park sits atop a bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The park offers camping, picnic areas, and miles of equestrian and pedestrian trails. Just northwest of the recreation area you’ll find the Dungeness Spit gate. A $3 entry fee covers a group up to four people and provides access to 11 miles of hiking. Be sure to pack food and water, and check the tides before you go. Volunteers are on hand to offer helpful tips and guidance.
Start Your Trek
The trail begins as a long half-mile paved trail through lush forest. Lookout points and informational kiosks are located along the way. Once you descend to the beach, your trek can be as long or as short as suits your pace. The calm waters and tide flats of the Dungeness Spit offer many opportunities for exploration along the way. If the New Dungeness Lighthouse is your goal, walk 5.5 miles along the sandy spit until the very tip. Have your binoculars and camera at the ready! The Dungeness Wildlife Refuge brims with than 250 species of birds, 49 species of land mammals and marine mammals. Avid birdwatchers flock to the area, which is designated an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society.
Reaching the Lighthouse
Once you reach the lighthouse, the grounds offer a nice spot to rest and picnic. Linger a while to learn more about one of the oldest lighthouses in the Northwest, which has kept its light on continuously since 1857. Visit the museum, take a free, guided tour offered daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and climb the 74 stairs to the top for a panoramic view of the spit, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Canada. If you’ve ever wondered about the day-to-day life of a lighthouse keeper, this is the place to find out. The New Dungeness Lighthouse Keeper Program offers an opportunity to spend a week at the lighthouse, overseeing minor upkeep and leading visitor tours.
Whether you come for a short stroll, a full day of walking and exploring, or an extended visit to camp or be the keeper of the light, hiking the Dungeness Spit offers a unique and unforgettable experience.