This has become a go-to winter “hike” for me over the past few years. I know beach doesn’t come to mind for most people in the winter, but the beach is my happy place even if it’s 40 and windy with passing squalls. Unlike everything else I seem to get sick of and have trouble revisiting, this one doesn’t get old, and it’s mostly thanks to agate hunting!
Pros: No mountain passes/snowy roads, noncommittal ~4mi beach walk that doesn’t require lots of gear/crazy fitness/suffering in the freezing cold, surprise pockets of sunshine, salt air, agates, possible surfing.
Cons: kind of a drive, Tacoma traffic, the best breakfast place usually runs out of food before I’m done with my activity and I never think to have breakfast before the beach, and sometimes small children take my agates but I can’t say anything because I’m an adult and they’re so endearingly excited.
Distance: 4mi round trip
Elevation gain: 0ft, highest point.. 0ft? Maybe 3ft on top of the dunes.
Weather: Usually 40’s and sunny and windy
Commute from Seattle: 2:30
Did I Trip: No but sometimes my reflexes are too slow to save me from a wave that blindsided me if that counts
Beta from someone who knows way more than me: PNW Beach Combing
You park along the road where it says “no overnight camping” (does that imply no overnight parking?), cross the street, walk past two usually-pretty-clean port-a-potties, jump off a 2ft “cliff” of eroding asphalt onto sand, clamber over a small jetty, and you are on you way to Damon Point. Children and wagons make it over the jetty, don’t be intimidated. And you won’t get lost. You’re on a beach.
And from there, it’s just a 2mi walk to the end, and another 2mi to walk back the way you came. Stay on the ocean side, the bay side is underwhelming (and marshy/seaweedy at low tide) and doesn’t have any neat rocks to find. The dunes are pretty, but nothing cool to find unless you’re into driftwood and bird poop. I hear the bird watching is great but I am totally clueless about it, so can’t help you there.
The best agates are in the last mile of beach, though it seems the gravel beds where the rocks collect change every year. Last year there were piles of rocks at the very end of the point where I’d hit the jackpot, this year those piles were smaller but there were huge strips about a half mile away from the end of the peninsula. You’ll want to aim for low tide (preferably <4ft – my best day was ~1ft) of course. There is also jasper, but I suck at recognizing it besides orbicular jasper. Plenty of quartz varieties too, much more common than agates and jasper. Very little sea glass and I’ve never seen a sand dollar, so choose a different beach if those are your goals.
1. The first time we looked for agates, we picked up like 50 pieces of quartz before finding a real agate and realizing how wrong we had been. It still took several more trips to be able to naturally separate agates from quartz. I’d hold the one thing I knew was an agate next to the quartz to be sure. The reward thinking you’ve found one is just as fun. Agates almost glow in the sun. If seaglass and rocks had a baby it would be an agate.
2. Very fit some type of weiner dog chased us for maybe a full hour. Finally turned out its owner was walking near us, the dog just liked sprinting with us to and from the waves more than walking.
3. Cute kid collecting agates with his grandpa. He snagged a HUGE one from right in front of us but he was so excited about it! His grandpa sometimes gives him $1 for the big ones.
4. This chonk of a chocolate lab started following me at the end of the point and jogged over a half hour with me. Perfect jogging companion, trotted nicely right next to me. Back at the cars I called the number on her collar since no one I had run into owned her. It was the park manager’s dog! He didn’t realize she was all the way out at the end of the point. She was adorable, when we got close to the cars I stopped for a sec to talk to some people and she whined, as if to say “why aren’t we going come on we have to get back” like I had any idea where she thought we were going.
5. Massive kelp nests. I think kelp. Some type of seaweed. They’re WAY bigger than I thought. Would not want to run into one while swimming, no sir. This place would be awesome to walk after a big storm.