North Beach is Port Townsend's main beach. It faces north out onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with beautiful Whidbey Island to the Northeast and the San Juan Islands.
Why is there so much sea glass on Glass Beach?
McCurdy Point is a remote bluff located several miles west of Port Townsend, Washington. In the past, trucks backed up to the edge of the bluff and dumped the town's refuse onto the rocky shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This was an accepted practice until the late 1960's. The city then decided to clean up it's beaches and discontinued dumping and bulldozing debris over the bluff.
Our first visit to Glass Beach
We arrived at North Beach, Port Townsend, about two hours before low tide. It was mid November and, as you can see from the video below, we had perfect weather for a long walk.
As we started our 3 mile hike from North Beach Park, I was surprised as we seemed to have the beach completely to ourselves. I had expected to meet a number of other beachcombers (and did later on) but it was exciting to think that we may have had it to ourselves!
It was important to keep a somewhat fast pace so that we wouldn't get caught by the high tide wave action on the way back. This is very important to note! The beach is narrow to begin with and parts do get cut off as the tide rises, so plan ahead and check the tide charts.
With this in mind, I was forced to keep my head up and keep walking. I even resisted looking for sea glass during the hike (well, I tried!).
The walk was pretty easy going for the most part. The beach is mostly sandy with large patches of golf ball and softball sized rocks. As you get further down the beach there are some firm mud patches, lots of mushy seaweed and tons of driftwood.
We walked for around 30 minutes before finding our first piece of sea glass.
The gravel beds were still loaded with quite large rocks, not the smaller pebbles we knew we were looking for so we knew we still had a ways to go.
Finally, after walking for about 45 minutes, we noticed the beds of rocks now consisted of smaller pebbles. We also started finding a piece of sea glass every few steps.
It was clear that we were getting close to the old dump site known as "Glass Beach" which actually begins at McCurdy Point and continues south along the shore.
As we came around the bluff, we noticed the two old car axles which mark the beginning of Glass Beach. It took about 90 minutes to arrive at this location so be aware that it is quite a hike!
Immediately, we started to find lots of well rounded, mostly clear, perfectly frosted pieces of sea glass nestled between stones. As usual, I found more pieces but the Mr. is more discerning and found fewer in total, but more of a higher quality.
As you can see, we found several really beautiful pieces of sea glass in blue, red, grey, green, brown and, of course, clear. We also found a few pieces of pottery, a couple of nice oyster shells, several pieces of driftwood and a beautiful agate.
We continued to search for sea glass treasures for almost an hour before noticing that the tide was on its way back in. We also noticed that the handful of other sea glass hunters were starting to make their way back towards North Beach - that was a clue to get moving!
Don't be tempted to stay out longer than is sensible; that tide is not going to wait! When it's time to start hiking back to the parking lot, get hiking! The walk back can be a little tougher, especially when your backpack and pockets are loaded with sea glass, rocks, shells and driftwood.
Because of the rapidly rising tide there were a few spots where we needed to get closer to the rocks at the base of the bluffs. This made walking a little more difficult and time consuming.
There are also a few fallen trees that were easy to walk around when the tide was low, but that all changes as the tide rises. You either need to climb over them or walk a little way into the water.
On the way back towards the parking lot we had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with a couple of local sea glass collectors, Cheryl and Teresa. These lovely ladies were happy to show us their finds of the morning.
I highly recommend visiting Glass Beach, in fact it's my favorite sea glass beach in the United States (so far!).
Tips for a great hiking experience at Glass Beach
- Wear good walking shoes or hiking boots. I love my wellies!
- Bring water (especially in summer) as it's about a 6 mile round trip hike.
- Bring a small hand rake for digging in the gravel beds.
- Wear a back pack to carry your beach treasures back.
- It's always a good idea to take a bag for picking up trash.
- I like to wear a good hat (I don't wear sun glasses when I'm sea glassing).
- As always, take a chap stick and sunscreen.
Directions to Glass Beach, Port Townsend
Drive to North Beach parking lot: 5887 Kuhn Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
Our Glass Beach treasure!
Here are some of the treasures we found on Glass Beach.
Our journey back to the parking lot
Plan your visit to Glass Beach!
This may be the lesser-known Glass Beach (the other being Fort Bragg, California) but I loved it! Hiking a deserted beach surrounded by mystical scenery was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back!
Have you been yet? I'd love to hear about your adventure, so leave me a comment below!