Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring Hiking in the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington


Sloshing through ankle deep mud on a rare sunny or more predictably rainy day is a quintessential Northwest experience. When spring’s urge to get outdoors calls, find perfectly wet trails plus 28 miles of sandy, public beach on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula.

Spring Hiking on the Long Beach Peninsula
Well known for the oyster beds of Willapa Bay, great food, bird watching, and charter fishing, the Long Beach Peninsula also boasts an impressive system of trails. An estimated 30 miles of trails traverse the peninsula through grassy dunes and old growth forests, over rocky headlands, around wetlands and through scrub pine forest.

Local experts suggest the following for great spring hiking:

The soggy, 1.5-mile round-trip Coastal Loop includes plenty of short ups and downs, with steep sections. Features included huge, ancient Sitka spruce (some 10 feet in diameter), views of the Columbia River, and fauna and flora including newts, frogs, bald eagles, owls, foxes, otters, huckleberries, mushrooms, and flowers. Access to this 1.5-mile round trip loop is near Serious Pizza and the park office at the entrance to Ilwaco’s Cape Disappointment State Park (Discovery Pass required for cars). Dogs on leash are permitted.

The Weather Beach and Bearberry trails at Leadbetter Point, on the north end of the Peninsula, are likely to be under water this time of year. The 1.1-mile Bay Loop (green trail) offers mud without wading, birding sites, scrub pine forest, marsh grass fields and flat terrain. A Discover Pass is required for parking at Leadbetter Point State Park.

Delight in signs of spring (and mud) on three trails at the headquarters of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge: ¼-mile Art Trail mostly on boardwalk; fern-laden Cut Throat Climb, a ¾-mile loop; and nearby third-mile Teal Slough, showcasing millennium-old western red cedar and Sitka spruce trees. The refuge headquarters is near milepost 24 on State Route 101. Teal Slough is 1.6 miles northeast of the headquarters.

Spring Hiking on the Paved Discovery Trail
For the mud adverse, all but a short section of Discovery Trail on the west side of the Cape Disappointment headlands is paved. This 8.5-mile long coastal interpretive path stretches from Ilwaco on a forested climb and descent to Beard’s Hollow wetlands, then through grassy dunes to a mile north of Long Beach, with a forested spur to North Head Lighthouse added in 2014. Access points most with free parking are at the Port of Ilwaco, Beard’s Hollow, the Seaview and both Long Beach beach approaches, as well as the south end of the Breakers Resort. In Long Beach, the trail parallels a ½ mile wooden boardwalk. The trail is shared with cyclists, and dogs on leashes are permitted.

For more information on the Peninsula’s trails and recreational offerings, please call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau at 360.642.2400 or access www.funbeach.com.

Information provided by Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau