Hiking out to the New Dungeness Lighthouse along the Dungeness Spit might just be the most odd and ridiculous hike we’ve ever done.
Now before you think that this sounds like a hike worth skipping. Take a breath, and keep reading. We actually hear the hike is a pretty amazing stroll on a lovely day- as you can probably guess; the day we decided to take on the 11-mile trudge to and from the light was not a lovely day. Not even close. In fact it blew a gale that day. Sounds pretty great, huh?
Relive The Insanity With Us:
Hiking The Dungeness Spit
If you’re not familiar with what a spit is, in the simplest of terms it’s a bit of beach that projects out into a body of water (in this case an ocean). Making this hike essentially more of an extended beach walk than an actual hike. But that doesn’t mean it should be underestimated.
The Dungeness Spit is the longest spit in the world, and growing. If you want the bragging rights for going the full distance you’re going to have to put on your walking shoes, and get ready for a long day. The full distance of the hike from the trailhead (near the parking lot) to the end and back again is 11 miles (5.5 miles per way). And while walking on the beach might sound nice, walking on sand and dodging large beach rocks for 11 miles can take some wear and tear on the body.
This hike/walk takes the average hiker between 6-8 hours depending on pace and of course the weather. While it’s not an essential to success, we do think that this hike would be much to complete when started just before an outgoing tide. The beach is littered with driftwood and rocks and while it is still navigable during high tide, our return walk on low tide was much more pleasant.
What To Bring
A well-packed bag can make all the difference on a long day like this one. This is a quick summary of what we packed, and what worked for us. Double check the weather before you go and to make sure you’ve got all the layers you need. And remember once you’re out there, you’re out there, so if you think there’s something you’ll need that you haven’t spotted on this list, go ahead and toss it in your bag!
Water Carry what you think you’ll need for the hike out. The lighthouse does have a water refill once you’re there, so you can restock before turning for home.
Food There are no services available at the lighthouse, any food you want you’ll have to pack! The good news is, the entire spit is beautiful, anywhere along the route would make for an excellent picnic spot.
Raincoat This is the Pacific Northwest after all, and rain should be no surprise here. Don’t get caught without a raincoat!
A Camera You’re about to embark on an 11 mile hike to see a dang lighthouse, you better at least have one decent picture to show for it!
Hiking Boots/ Good Walking Shoes There’s no way around it, you’re feet are going to be sore after this little adventure. Do your tootsies a favor throw on a decent pair of hiking shoes before heading out to limit the abuse (one of us, we’ll let you guess who, decided rain boots would be an excellent choice for this hike…. Not so much).
You can learn about all the gear we use and love over on our Gear + Gadgets page
Exploring The New Dungeness Lighthouse
Walking the spit is a beautiful experience (in the right weather) but the real treat comes at the end in the form of the stunning and remarkably maintained New Dungeness Lighthouse. The gleaming white exterior of this 1857 era lighthouse is a sight for sore eyes and feet!
In 1994 the US Coast Guard withdrew it’s last keeper from the lighthouse. Left unmanned and alone on a tiny and rugged spit of land jutting out 6+ miles into the sea, the light could have easily fallen into a forgotten state, but thanks to the incredible efforts of the board members and volunteers of New Dungeness Light Station Association this incredible lighthouse not only well cared for also a thriving piece of history, open 365 days a year for the public to enjoy.
We had the pleasure of speaking with several volunteers during our visit there- they are knowledgeable, kind and passionate about what they do! Their presence alone made the tough walk out worth every step.
The New Dungeness Light Station Association offers a Keeper For A Week program which allows visitors the rare opportunity to live the life of a lighthouse keeper on the spit, for week long periods. It’s a unique and special opportunity, and an adventure we definitely think would be worthy of adding to your Washington State travel bucket list!
If you’d like to know more about the Keeper For A Week program click here, for all the details.