CAMP & HIKE: Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island

by Lauren Braden on August 17, 2012

in Camping and Outdoors

CAMP & HIKE: Spencer Spit on Lopez Island

While it’s a bit of a toss-up which of Lopez Island’s two laid-back waterfront campgrounds nudge above the other in greatness, I’ll go with Spencer Spit State Park just for the setting. Gosh, it is beautiful there.

This state park sits on the northeast corner of the island on a sand spit that encloses a picturesque lagoon. It’s just over four miles from the ferry landing, so Spencer Spit makes an ideal base camp if you’re on bikes.  The campground within this 138-acre state park includes seven walk-in campsites (sites 44-50) that are right on the beach. Whether you are fortunate to snag one of these campsites or you end up with a roomier one up on the bluff, you’ll enjoy hours of fun exploring the tidal areas and sand spit. Note – the beachfront sites offer no privacy whatsoever–you trade that for the view and amazing setting. The seven sites are literally separated from one another by a suspended boundary rope.

The other Lopez Island public campground is a great alternative to this one: Odlin County Park is a short distance away and also has beachfront sites.

Campground details: 37 standard tent sites, and no utility hookups. You can have RVs to 20 feet. There’s potable water and restrooms, but no showers (unusual for a state park). Reserve here up to 9 months in advance (you can also call 888-CAMPOUT). Some of the campsites are always first-come, first-served.

Where to hike: Lopez Island doesn’t have any lengthy trails or mountains to climb (go to nearby Orcas Island for that), but there are several shorter, scenic trails to satisfy your explorer’s itch.

Spencer Spit itself is a wide beach of sand and pebbles that juts into the salty bay. It can be hiked year-round at low or high tide, though you’ll be able to explore more of the tidal zone to spot sea stars and other critters at low tide. The stroll is about one mile round-trip.

On the southern tip of Lopez is Iceberg Point, a little-known spot that offers one of the most incredible public viewpoints in the San Juan Islands. Access is via Agate Beach County Park. The hike is about 3 miles round-trip. Keep an eye out for orca whales that pass right by this point, especially in summer and early fall.

Take these hikes with you in your backpack with Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands, written by Craig Romano and published by The Mountaineers Books.

See more from our CAMP & HIKE series.


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