Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Dungeness Spit

This is my second year in a row to do this paddle on a beautiful fall day! Going forward I will stay outside the piling markers no matter what time of the year!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • DUNGENESS TIDES: 7.3 @ 0548/ 3.2 @ 1107 / 7.7 @1704



Dungeness Spit was named by George Vancouver due to the resemblance to Dungeness in the British Channel, calling it “New Dungeness”. That is how the lighthouse has been named. The lighthouse stands about ½ mile from the eastern  end of the approx 4 nautical mile long spit that is growing about 15 feet a year.  Dungeness runs east/west with Graveyard Spit running perpendicular to it about halfway down along its southern side for about a mile.  The lighthouse is actually a little more than 2 nautical miles from the closest shore. Both spits are very narrow with a road that provides the transport of supplies and people to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is maintained by volunteers year round and is open to the public most days. See for more information.

 Most of us had camped at Dungeness Spit Rec Area on Saturday night.  There was plenty of parking at the boat launch in spite of the boats/trailers that had already arrived.  All paddlers were at the Cline Spit boat launch by 0915 and we launched in warm and pleasant sunshine after a brief huddle with clear skies at 1015.  We rode the last of the dying flood as far as we could go to the western corner of the reserve.  We never reached the signs prohibiting us to go further before we ran out of water.  We turned around and headed along the southern shore of the spit.  I didn’t see many hikers which surprised me on such a pleasant day.  Unfortunately we had forgotten that our date was now October and some of us found ourselves in the restricted zone.  I had been heading for what I thought was the opening to Cline Spit before I realized after a glance at my chart that we were close to the north end of Graveyard Spit instead!  This whole area is a restricted zone year round and we quickly moved out to join the others outside the piling markers.  Going forward I will stay outside the piling markers no matter what time of the year so as not to repeat this mistake again!

 Hopefully no harm was done as we saw very few birds floating or walking on the shoreline as it is likely too early for nesting or migrations.   We paddled quickly well away from the shore to go around the bottom and now enter Dungeness Bay on the other side.  It was easy to make a beeline for the pretty lighthouse blinking at us. The tide had turned and was now going slightly against us but it was no issue as we pulled up to the shore in front of the battered sign along the beach about 1230.  It looked like two new posts were driven in the ground past the driftwood marking the area that it is permissible to leave our boats.  Most of the others pulled their boats up to the driftwood; I hung back a bit but tied my boat off before we all marched up the sandy trail to the buildings. Unfortunately I didn’t have the phone number to alert our coming to do lighthouse tours but the the smiling volunteer keepers didn’t seem to mind and warmly welcomed us anyway.  We headed for the picnic tables on the well maintained green lawn between the lighthouse and the keeper’s house.  There was hardly any breeze and it was a very pleasant time spent eating our lunches in the sunshine listening to the waves of the Strait of Juan de Fuca just beyond us. 

 After we had eaten the others chose to take the lighthouse tour while I stayed down below and chatted with one of the volunteers.  She is from Arkansas and will spend her entire stay of 7 days at the lighthouse!  I wouldn’t mind getting to stay in that beautiful house in that lovely spot in warm sunny weather!  But not for seven days and certainly not in the howlers that can hit that area in the winter!  She also told me the reason why the lighthouse keepers have to be trucked back and forth on the spit—and subject to the tides that allow that—is because there is no dock.

 It was about 2:00 when we headed back to our boats to find mine floating and the others a short easy push to get into the water again.  A short discussion made the decision to head around the western end of the spit.  It couldn’t have been done in nicer conditions and the view was a breathtaking one with Canada across the water, the Gulf, San Juan and Whidby Islands easily identified with a clear backdrop of snow covered Mt. Baker. I stared out once again this year at the open Pacific Ocean at the west end of the Strait and admired the patterns left by the gentle waves hitting the outside of the spit.  We were able to go float along slowly in the flooding current without paddling and stay far enough away from the shore so that we did not disturb the seals and (always screaming) seagulls on it.  Many of the seals watched us nervously while others looked bored or were asleep.

 Once safely around and clear of the seals we began paddling this time straight back to Cline Spit while being peeped at by a few seals along the way.  We arrived at the boat launch in the higher tide which made for a short and easy carry up the boat launch. There were a few boats coming and going but since this is the only launch in this park that is not surprising. 

 There is one clean and stocked Sani Can restroom available so any clothes changing needs to be as quickly as possible.  We had a brief huddle after all the cars were loaded and our clothes changed.  Thanks were exchanged and nobody had any complaints.  Lauren, Terry and I stopped at the Jamestown S’kallom Longhouse in Blyn for a quick hot deli meal  on the way home.

 This is my second year in a row to do this paddle on a beautiful fall day!  All paddlers performed well with excellent group dynamics.