A Hike And A Treasure Hunt On Glass Beach
One Man's Trash...
Port Townsend boasts a multitude of interesting places to visit, stay and explore. Not our first trip to Port Townsend, but it was our first hike to Glass Beach. The beachfront at McCurdy Point is the stretch of sand known as Glass Beach. Glass Beach has gained this moniker, as it is a treasure trove of what we combers call sea glass. Sea glass is a polite term for discarded bottles, glass, and various pottery broken to bits, tumbled and polished by the to and fro of sand and wave. This narrow, rocky beach lies between the waters of the Strait of Juan De Fuca and a cliff of some 100 feet high.
The reason for this great deposition of sea glass is this was once the town dump. As the history goes, the garbage trucks would back up to the cliff and empty the refuse onto the water and sand far below. This unsavory practice was some 50-60 years ago. Thinking has, of course, changed in the interim and the value of preserving our environment better shapes our handling of garbage.
There are a few reminders of the trash heap this beach once was. Axles, tires, parts of motorcycles and assorted scrap metal are the most obvious relics. On closer inspection, bits of translucent glass come to light. Among the larger stones and pebbles, clear and colored pieces of treasure begin to catch the eye. The more you train your vision to pick out the sea glass, the more you see. Not to mention, if you are a rock hound, agates and quartz cover this beach.
Before setting out, we checked the tide charts for the area. Tide tables are your friend. The beach is narrow when the tide is low, so this is not a place you want to get caught when the tide comes in. We planned our hike around the low tide. Parking at the North Beach Park parking lot (this is the only public access point, please do not attempt to access the beach from McCurdy Point Road or anywhere other than North Beach Park), we set out on our almost 3-mile hike. It took about an hour to make it to the spot where the most glass is to be found. While this is not a difficult journey, do wear appropriate footwear. The resistance of soft sand and shifting and sometimes slippery rocks can be a challenge.
We found plenty of sea glass as we casually searched on our way to our primary destination. When we arrived, we took off our packs and began to search. Glass was everywhere! Much of what we were looking for lay on the surface of sand and pebble. A gentle rake of our fingers through finer stones, revealed, even more, glass. We could have spent several hours here, scouring the area. Being mindful of tide and weather, we stayed about an hour then started back.
It was a windy, partly rainy day. Remember to dress for the weather. Having a sack or bag to tote your hard earned booty is a good idea too!
Sea glass hunting may not be your thing. Driftwood, numerous varieties of rocks, the lapping of waves on the sand, aquatic birds, shells and ocean views are just a few other things you can experience here. Who does not love a walk on the beach? Fresh air, waves gently spilling onto the shore and peace are reward enough if none of the above interest you.
So, find your treasure, whatever it might be, you might just find it along the shoreline.
Coordinates: 48.142411, -122.782058
Hike Distance: ~5.4 miles roundtrip
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Pass Required: None
Wildlife Seen: Aquatic birdlife
Public access to beach is only available at North Beach Park. Do not attempt to take a short cut by trespassing on private property.
Follow along on our wanderings around the Pacific Northwest.
The only thing better would be being there yourself!
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