Dungeness Spit and Sequim Bay

Every year we take a weekend camping trip with my daughter’s preschool class. The kids are now going into second grade, and have lots of siblings, so we end up with quite a large (and loud) group! We pick a different campground each year, and this year we chose the John Wayne Waterfront Resort in Sequim, WA.

Unfortunately our trip was cut a bit short this time – Friday night’s forecast called for pouring rain and lightning. On this side of the sound (we live near Bothell) the weather started getting pretty miserable around 4 PM, so we opted to leave in the morning instead.

Staying home did give us a great view of a female juvenile Cooper’s hawk shaking the rain off her wings in the middle of the thunderstorm! She and her brother were still hunting together, despite the storm, for about an hour.

Female juvenile Cooper's hawk. Bothell, Washington.

We headed out Saturday for a misty ferry ride and an easy (and always gorgeous) drive over to Sequim. Rather than head straight to camp the three of us trekked over to Dungeness Spit for a short hike.

This was our first time hiking there, and we weren’t sure what to expect. Our 7-year-old can handle fairly long and steep hikes, but although this one is very flat for most of the way it is also the longest hike we’ve ever considered taking her on. The hike from the bottom of the bluffs to the lighthouse near the tip is 5.5 miles in one direction. As a hiker, you’re also racing the tide because once it comes in there is only soft sand and driftwood to walk on.

Once we started our walk it became obvious that we weren’t going to make it to the end. I think if we had been able to get started right as the tide was going out and hadn’t felt rushed to get to our friends we would have been able to do it, though likely with an exhausted kid by the end. Instead we just enjoyed exploring what we found!

The Dungeness Wildlife Refuge was a fantastic little nature preserve, and I would have loved the opportunity to walk all of its’ trails. As it was, I still spotted several new bird species for my list – plus these little cuties:

Butterflies in Dungeness Wildlife Refuge, Washington.

All in all it was certainly a worthwhile hike, even though we only made it halfway down the spit and back (about 2 1/2 hours). The big draw for the kidlet was chasing the crashing waves, and my husband and I were interested in the difference in diving birds between the open ocean and the nearly enclosed harbor. I think he and I may plan a weekend camping trip to ourselves this fall or winter to make it to the end and watch the wintering shorebirds.

Dungeness Spit Bluffs. Near Sequim, Washington.

On the the campsite!

I typically like my camping to feel a little more… well, wilderness-y than an RV park can allow, but as far as these types of places go we were pleasantly surprised. The park only has a small row of campsites, and our group occupied all of them – a nice flat grassy area under a stand of big leaf maple along a rushing creek. Across the street – and in view from our tent – is Sequim Bay and the marina.

The proximity to the beach was a definite perk. Some kids were occupied with kayaking and paddle-boarding, while others were hard at work trying to dam up the creek where it flows into the bay (they were quite pleased with themselves until the tide came in!).

The wildlife was abundant and definitely satisfied my need to FIND ALL THE CREATURES. The usual beach birds were around – great blue herons by the dozen, of course. A handful of kingfishers were making a big show of diving for fish, killdeer were poking around the shore, and I even spotted a favorite of mine on the rocks – black oystercatchers (aka carrot noses). A few kids even climbed up the creek and caught some chorus frogs.

Killdeer. Sequim Bay, Washington.

All said, for a one night stay and half a hike we were feeling pretty refreshed by this mini trip! Now to do what I always do when we return from an adventure – start planning the next one!

Areas visited:

Edmonds Ferry Dock, Dungeness Wildlife Refuge, John Wayne Waterfront Resort.

Species observed:

Canada Goose, Northern Shoveler, Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Brandt’s Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, American Coot, Killdeer, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Common Raven, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pacific Chorus Frog, Harbor Seal, Townsend’s Chipmunk.

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