I decided to write today about the area I draw so much of my inspiration from, the amazing place I call home, the Long Beach peninsula on the southern coast of Washington state. I am blessed to live in an outdoor lover’s paradise, with a climate moderate enough to enjoy most activities year round. Thanks to several small, hard working communities, there are more things to do in nature along this 30 mile long, 3 mile wide spit of land between the pacific ocean and Willapa Bay, than any place I have previously lived – and I take full advantage of it!
For starters, there are several state parks, two of them providing miles of unpaved hiking trails. In Cape Disappointment state park on the south end, the trails wind through crooked alders, lush clumps of sword ferns, in and out of moss covered old-growth hemlock and spruce. The trails climb along rocky cliffs that drop straight into the writhing ocean surf below, past ruins of civil war military bunkers flocked with moss and dangling wild cucumber vine, then continue on to two working light houses, one of which can be toured during the summer.
At the north end, visitors to Leadbetter Point state park can hike along Willapa bay, an estuary where at low tide the sand is littered with broken clam shells, where seals or sea lions can often be spotted and a variety of birding activities can be enjoyed. Eventually the trail turns away from the bay to wind inland toward the ocean, through a dense shore-pine forest, rolling up and down mossy hummocks through tunnels of huckleberry, pine and pacific wax myrtle.
There are also unpaved trails around Black Lake, a small freshwater lake at the southern end of the peninsula. These trails are well maintained, cleared through old logged forest, with several of them created specifically for mountain bikers, offering a variety of challenges.
There are approximately 18 miles (round trip) of paved trails for biking, walking, jogging, roller blading, skate boarding, that undulate through the dunes along part of the 28 miles of continuous ocean beach.
This area was the final destination of the Lewis and Clark expedition with various points of interest open to the public. There are several wildlife refuges open to visitors and within a short 20 minute drive along the bay, a stunning hike into an ancient grove of coastal red cedars, western hemlock and sitka spruce, gratefully saved from loggers. Many of these inspiring trees are well over 1000 years old.
This area is a tourist destination and in the summer a variety of festivals celebrate everything from sand sculpting and kite flying, to “Jazz and Oysters” and “The Rod-run to the end of the world” when over 500 hot rods roar up and down the peninsula for several days.
By September, most local residents, myself included, are ready for the returned quiet of the “off season”, but I am very grateful to live in a place where so many enthusiastic individuals come together to create such a diversity of activities, a place where I am afforded endless opportunities to explore the area and all its incredible natural treasures.
Mossy whispers: Become part of. Share your passion. Community is the beginning of opportunity.