Dungeness Spit to Dungeness Lighthouse, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Olympic National Park, Washington

Dungeness Spit to Dungeness Lighthouse - 10.8 miles

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

The Dungeness Spit at its narrowest point

The Dungeness Spit at its narrowest point

Round-Trip Length: 10.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 135' - 0' (135' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -135' net elevation loss
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Dungeness Spit to Dungeness Lighthouse - 10.8 Miles Round-Trip

The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is located in Sequim WA, just north of US 101 along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The refuge protects over 250 birds and 41 land mammals that call this coastal area home at some point in their life cycle.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Dungeness Bay and Dungeness River estuary support waterfowl, shorebirds, eagles, seals, shellfish and salmon. The lowland forest above draws black tailed deer, bobcat and owls.

The DNWR is an important staging ground for migratory birds, which can number 3,000 - 5,000 by April. Many birds that stop here breed as far north as Alaska, and migrate as far as South America. Harbor seals depend on the Dungeness Spit for haul-outs and pupping.

A spit is a deposition land form connected to the coast that projects into open water. Spits typically form where longshore ocean drifts meet a section of land with contours greater than 30 degrees.

Bent sharply and receding perpendicularly from the shore, these currents lose momentum and deposit sediment in their wake down the shore. Spits shelter backwaters from wind and waves, enabling estuaries to form.

The Dungeness Spit extends over 5 miles NE from coastal bluffs out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It's comprised of sediments carried out from eroding bluffs and the Elwha and Dungeness rivers.

The Dungeness Spit is one of the longest such formations in the world, and grows 15" every year. The lighthouse was once 1/6 of a mile from the tip when constructed in 1857; it's now over half a mile, and the spit continues to grow up to 13' per year.

 The New Dungeness Lighthouse caps the spit, and is still operable and integral to navigation in the strait. The lighthouse tower now stands at 63' (though only 12' above sea level) after being reduced from 100' in 1927 due to hazardous conditions.

The Coast Guard removed its last keeper in 1994, but The New Dungeness Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society formed that same year to protect, preserve and man the facility. Volunteers live on the spit year round and offer free daily tours.

The 10.8 mile roundtrip hike to the lighthouse is a unique experience. A paved path drops through coastal woodlands to the spit (.5 miles), where you'll head 4.9 miles out to the lighthouse.

Travel is restricted to the outer strait side, as the inner harbor, Graveyard Spit, and area beyond the lighthouse on the very tip are fully protected. The lines are clearly marked and should be honored.

Still, there are very good views of all land and water features from the spit's subtle spine and lighthouse tower. En route you'll see scores of birds and harbor seals just offshore.

The spit is completely exposed to sun and wind - layers and sunscreen are recommended, even on seemingly cloudy or calm days. Travel is possible at high tide, though you may be pushed up onto rocks or driftwood during surges.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N48 08.481 W123 11.433 — 0.0 miles : Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge Trailhead
  • N48 08.752 W123 11.268 — .5 miles : Reach beach - turn east up spit
  • N48 09.099 W123 10.886 — 1.0 miles : Inner harbor protection area begins
  • N48 09.393 W123 10.537 — 1.5 miles: Open travel on spit
  • N48 10.002 W123 09.727 — 2.5 miles : Open travel on spit
  • N48 10.534 W123 08.738 — 3.5 miles : Graveyard spit branches south
  • N48 10.640 W123 07.580 — 4.5 miles : Travel between strait and harbor
  • N48 10.944 W123 06.614 — 5.4 miles : Dungeness Lighthouse

Worth Noting

  • Many of the birds that stop in the Dungeness area breed as far north as Alaska, and migrate as far south as South America.

  • The Sequim - Dungeness area lies in the Olympic Mountain rain shadow, considered the driest area in western Washington. Average annual rainfall is 16.5", compared to 130-150" in the western rainforests.

  • Dungeness was by named by Captain George Vancouver after Dungeness Point on the English coast.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Camping is not permitted within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Facilities are available at the adjacent Dungeness Recreation Area.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is not permitted within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $3 fee per party / family to enter the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Several outside recreational passes exempt this fee.

  • To protect wildlife and vegetation, kites, frisbees, paddle games, etc, are not permitted in the Refuge. Jogging is not permitted .5 miles east of the spit entry point.

Directions to Trailhead

The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is located 3.3 miles north of US 101 in Sequim, WA.

From US 101, take Kitchen-Dick Road north for 3.2 miles, where it doglegs right and becomes Lotzgesell Road. Make an immediate left turn on Voice of America Road into the Wildlife Refuge.

Follow the entrance road all the way to the trailhead (about a mile), where you will find restrooms, volunteer kiosks, free brochures, and a self-pay fee station.

Contact Information

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

The DNWR is open from sunrise to sunset

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"This is an absolutely stunning place! Crowds thinned about a mile past the spit entry point and we had long stretches all to ourselves. Saw a few eagles and seals, and the lighthouse keepers told us they'd seen orcas in the harbor just a few days prior. We had awesome views of the San Juan Islands and snow-covered Olympics. The walk is pretty easy but it is in sand, so we started to feel a little leg fatigue at the end. I'd recommend layers, as the weather changed quite a few times over the course of several hours. If you have the time, definitely go all the way to the lighthouse."
Elliot Graham  -   -  Date Posted: November 28, 2016


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