Glass Beach, Port Townsend: Amazing Sea Glass Hunting Spot!

Sea glass collected at Glass Beach, Port Townsend, Washington

Sea glass hunters always think of Fort Bragg, California when you mention "Glass Beach". However, this may be the better of the two!

There's not as much sea glass at Washington's Glass Beach, but still a lot more than most beaches and definitely better colors.

It's quite a long hike to get to the beach and you're racing against the changing tide, but the scenery is fantastic. I wouldn't want to go in wet weather though!

If you're planning a visit in the near future - or you just want to look at pretty pictures and daydream - here's my complete guide to Glass Beach at Port Townsend.

Why is there so much sea glass here?

Before humans started to care more about the environment, the ocean was a handy place to get rid of trash quickly and cheaply. Much of the sea glass we collect these days comes from trash dumps, such as Glass Beach at Fort Bragg.

Until the late 1960s, trucks backed up to the edge of the bluff at McCurdy Point and dumped Port Townsend's refuse onto the rocky shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The city then decided to clean up its beaches, discontinuing the practice of dumping and bulldozing debris over the bluff.

My Glass Beach Adventure!

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.

My husband and I parked up about two hours before low tide, turned left and started hiking. It was mid November and, as you can see from the short video below, it was the perfect weather for a long walk.

As we started the 3 mile hike from North Beach Park, we were 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 on the way back. 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.

Also, let somebody know where you're going and when you plan to be back, just in case. If you do get your timings wrong, you'll definitely want to know that help is on the way.

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.

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.

Auto parts at Glass Beach, Port Townsend

Once you spot this, you're almost at the start of Glass Beach!

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 picked up more pieces but the Mr. is more discerning and found fewer in total, but more of a higher quality.

Sea glass laying on the beach at Glass Beach, Port Townsend

All of this beach treasure was just laying around!

We found several 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.

Agates found at North Beach, Port Townsend

Teresa found these agates right in front of the parking lot at North Beach!

My Tips for the perfect Glass Beach visit

  • 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.

My Glass Beach treasure!

Here are some of the treasures we found on Glass Beach.
Uranium sea glass found at Glass Beach, Port Townsend

Lime green sea glass which turned out to be uranium glass!

Pile of sea glass found at Glass Beach, Port Townsend

We found all of this in less than an hour!

My favorite sea glass found at Glass Beach, Port Townsend

Some of my favorites... can you spot the little pink heart?

Directions to Glass Beach, Port Townsend

Drive to North Beach parking lot: 5887 Kuhn Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

Hike west from the parking lot for around 3 miles. Google Maps measures the distance as 2.6 miles in a straight line, but you can see a curve in the beach so allow for the extra distance.

Once you round the bluff, you're on Glass Beach.

Directions to Glass Beach, Port Townsend

Here are a number of landmarks along the route so you know you're heading in the right direction!

Hiking to Glass Beach, Port Townsend

Head onto North Beach from the parking lot and make a left.

Hiking to Glass Beach, Port Townsend

There are a few fallen trees to clamber over!

Hiking to Glass Beach, Port Townsend

When you pass the tree stump wall, you're about a quarter of the way there.

Hiking to Glass Beach, Port Townsend

This wall is about halfway, so keep on hiking!

Hiking to Glass Beach, Port Townsend

Once you spot the rusted car parts, you're about to hit Glass Beach!

I highly recommend visiting Glass Beach, in fact it's my favorite sea glass beach in the United States (so far!).

While You're in Port Townsend...

Port Townsend itself is a wonderful, historic town. Originally planned as a busy sea port, the railway only made it as far as Tacoma and left Port Townsend in a bit of a mess. These days, it's a bohemian paradise full of historic buildings.

If you enjoy history, here's the full story.

When you visit, make sure to enjoy an evening at the Rose Theatre. The Rose opened as a vaudeville house in 1907 and has experienced the transition from live theatre to silent film, to talkies, to Technicolor and now to digital projection across three unique screens. Every show is personally introduced by a host which sets the movie up perfectly.

First National Bank building, Port Townsend, Washington

First National Bank building, Port Townsend

A grand building in downtown Port Townsend, Washington

Downtown Port Townsend has amazing architecture!

Grand buildings in downtown Port Townsend, Washington

Plenty of repurposed warehouses and offices.

Magpie Alley store, Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend has a thriving arts community and a bohemian feel.

Mermaid art, Port Townsend, Washington

You can never go wrong with a mermaid, right?!

Have you been sea glass hunting in Port Townsend?

Tell me all about it in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “Glass Beach, Port Townsend: Amazing Sea Glass Hunting Spot!”

  1. Today was our first time at beach combing for sea glass. We got a late start so we didn’t make it all the way to the point but still managed to find alot of sea glass. I cant wait to go back!

  2. Actually the old dump is closer to 4&1/2 – 5 miles one way. And everyone used to go to the dump. I went when I was a kid. I never knew who owned the land but everyone took their own garbage to the dump. We didn’t have a service to haul it. This was before we ever had that. There were no garbage trucks. Someone owns the land and there’s a house an keep out signs. One doesn’t find so much or the different colors anymore. It’s become so well known now that people take shovels and big buckets down on the beach. Jewelry makers and bulk glass sellers. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth! Greed. Good luck finding a parking place. And people don’t like when cars park in front of their house. Used to be a quiet place to enjoy. Now you have to watch out for doggy poop. Yes I’m a local. Played on that beach all my life. I’m 65 now. Have fun.

  3. I would rate Glass Beach Port Townsend a 10 on the difficulty scale for glass beach hunting, and not recommend the trip, actually. Do not trust the tide charts! I was there a couple months ago and they are wrong. There is definitely more water and it comes in fast. When I finally reached the glass beach, I was underwhelmed. As you can see, there is mostly clear, and not a lot of that any longer. Alas, the treasure at this beach, much like our beloved Ft. Bragg, is rapidly diminishing. Thank you for sharing your special knowledge of glass beaches all over the world. Unfortunately, there is only so much glass and no more dumping on our fair shores. Please collect responsibly!

  4. Hi. Thank you for the article! I walked North Beach once with my son and it was hairy getting back, due to the high tide. I have been to the beach at Fort Worden, next to the light house, many times and have found TONS of beautiful sea glass in clear, green, amber, and brown, near the water. I like to think the sea glass angel has visited!


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