Long Beach and Leadbetter Point

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Oysterville Road Sign

July 22, 2015.  The Long Beach Peninsula is a tiny jut of land that is in the southwest corner of Washington State.  On the West is the Pacific Ocean, the south The Columbia River and the east Willapa Bay.  It has the longest beach in the United States, almost 30 miles of continuous sand and water.

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Beautiful Inviting Beach but Swimming is not allowed due to riptides. We did see a few surfers.
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View from cliff at lighthouse

The area captivated us.  We’ve traveled pretty extensively now along the west coast and every once in awhile we visit a place where we say to each other, “This may be a place where we could settle down.”  Long Beach Peninsula was one of those places.

The little town of Long Beach is a tourist destination, but also has many very old restored homes.

Downtown has a Beach Destination Feel.

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Vacation Spot

A Few of the Many Restored Old Homes

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Many Homes have signs giving the date they were built. This one was 1897.
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Unusual Design.
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Inviting old home

It took about 1-1/2 hours to reach the area from Hoaquiam, Washington, where we are staying so we wanted to see everything possible in one day.  It turned out to be a long day which we could have easily turned into three days of exploring and hiking if we had the time.  We left Long Beach and headed north toward Leadbetter State Park.  Along the way we stopped at Oysterville, a small protected hamlet where the entire town is on the National Historical Registry. For an idea of the beauty and history of the town visit Sydney of Oysterville.com.

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Country cottage with English garden in Oysterville
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A favorite shot of mine taken from Oysterville, looking out at the Willapa Bay.

One strange, unexplained fact about the town I found online is “In 1893, the county seat was stolen by raiders in the middle of the night and taken to South Bend.” See https://funbeach.com/explore/villages/oysterville/  I always thought a county seat was a town chosen to be where the county had their government offices.  How do you steal that in the middle of the night?

Pearly Everlasting - Anaphalis margaritacea
Pearly Everlasting – Anaphalis margaritacea basking in sun and just being beautiful.
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Working Oyster Business
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Willabay Oyster Company Building

These are the discarded oyster shells.  See this article on the uses for discarded shells http://saltwaterfishing.sc.gov/oyster.html

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Discarded oyster shells.Habitat: Oysters build reefs which provide habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and other animals. They are an integral part of the marine ecosystem. There are nearly 120 different species that frequent oyster reefs, including; Red Drum, Blue Crabs, Flounder, and Shrimp. Erosion Control: Oyster reefs are natural breakwaters that absorb wave energy and protect marsh shorelines from erosion.

Leadbetter Point State Park was our next stop.  The road is lined with large old growth trees.

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The foliage is so thick in Washington that often the road can parallel the beach, but be hidden by trees which grow right up to the sand.

There are several hikes in the park, but we decided on the Bay Loop Trail, since we had the dog and some of the other hikes were off limits due to the protected Snowy Plover habitat.  Leadbetter Point has over 1200 acres of marshes, dunes and forest and in addition it connects to Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, which can only be reached by hiking.  This would be a great hike during the waterfowl migration season.

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Overall map of park
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Close up of trail

Leaving the parking lot you enter a short path leading to the beach.

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The path is level. This is a hike that can be enjoyed by people of all ages
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After crossing a short foot bridge you come to the beach

 

The tide was out so it didn’t appear very pretty at first.

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Algae left from receded tide
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Tide was out, water is in far distance
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Taken with telephoto lens
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The land seems to be waiting for the return of the tide

This lone raccoon was way out near the water’s edge looking for clams, oblivious that he is supposed to be nocturnal.  Maybe his hunger outweighed his need for sleep.  No garbage cans in this area, the animals need to forage the natural way.

Clamming
Clamming
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Harley seems to enjoy the sand. He pulls on the leash and enjoys the smells and sounds.
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The oyster shells seem to have made a natural sidewalk along the high water mark
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Shell “sidewalk” up close.

After about 1/4 mile up the beach the trail turns inland to the marine forest area.

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Trail lined with sea grass
Common Yarrow - Achillea millefolium
To the right of the path, you again see water. The clouds were large and puffy. In the forefront was Common Yarrow – Achillea millefolium,
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A huge horsefly taking a time out on the yarrow. We got several bites from these aggressive flies.
Pacific Silverweed - Argentina egedii subsp. egedii
Pacific Silverweed – Argentina egedii subsp. egedii . These wildflowers were almost bloomed out, but the plants were a green carpet along much of the trail. They must have been beautiful a month or so before.

Some more flowers I encountered:

Tansy - Tanacetum velgare
A non-native plant but beautiful just the same. Tansy – Tanacetum velgare

 

Tansy - Tanacetum velgare
Top view of Tansy – Tanacetum velgare

Even within this small area I spotted two different types of thistle.

Short-styled thistle, Cluster thistle - Cirsium brevistylum
Short-styled thistle, Cluster thistle – Cirsium brevistylum
Spotted knapweed - Cenaurea biebersteinii
Spotted knapweed – Cenaurea biebersteinii

This is a typical look at the marine forest you walk through on this path.

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Old growth marine forest
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We enjoyed this diverse, unusual state park

Leaving here we rode south to view the two lighthouses on the peninsula.  As I said, it was a long day for us.  After leaving Leadbetter Point we travelled south to the mouth of the Columbia River.  I’ll cover that on my next post.