The word Dungeness (meaning sandy cape) is a fitting description for this 5.5-mile-long stretch of sand that creates Dungeness Bay. The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge (Voice of America Rd., 360/457-8451, website, $3 per group) provides habitat for 250 species of birds on the nation’s longest natural sand spit. As many as 30,000 birds rest at this saltwater lagoon during their migratory journeys.
Built in 1857, the New Dungeness Lighthouse at the tip of the spit is managed by volunteers and offers tours, but you’ll have to hike a total of 10 miles round-trip to see it. It’s a good idea to check the tide charts before starting out. For an overview of the area, hike the half-mile trail from the parking lot to a bluff overlooking Dungeness Bay.
Clamming, fishing, and canoeing are permitted in this protected wildlife refuge, but no camping, dogs, firearms, or fires. The spit is closed to horses on weekends and holidays April 15–October 15.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition