Paved dune trail open in Ocean Shores

After many years of anticipation, Ocean Shores residents and visitors can finally drive through the sand dune ridge both around and on foot.

That’s thanks to a new $1.2 million asphalt and wood trail, called the High Dune Trail, that stretches three-quarters of a mile from the Chance A La Mer beach access to Damon Road, rolling through grass, shrubs, sand and trees. providing frequent ocean views.

The City of Ocean Shores held a ceremony on Saturday, October 28 to celebrate the new dune travel opportunity and the years of work it took to create it.

“We’ve been talking about the High Dune Trail probably since I moved to Ocean Shores about 15 years ago,” Ocean Shores Mayor Jon Martin said as he stood near the entrance to the trail at the Chance A La Mer entrance. “It’s finally happening.

The trail has been open to pedestrians for several weeks, although several things still need to be wrapped up before the first phase of the project is fully completed, Ocean Shores Project Manager Becky Leach said Saturday. Cement berms block trail access on Damon Road, where crews have yet to install a culvert to prevent erosion from runoff rain and ideally complete a ramp to the road in the spring. The city also plans to install explanatory signs along the edge of the trail.

Construction of the trail began in June and took about four months. Black asphalt makes up the vast majority of the ADA-accessible trail, while 335 feet of amber boardwalk transports dune visitors through sensitive wetland areas. A handful of benches along the 10-foot-wide surface provide a place to rest and view the ocean in the distance.

“It’s beautiful,” Leach said. “I’m excited for everyone to see it.

The trail has minimal gradient and is mostly easy, in character opposite the trail before the project was completed – a steep climb that contained many obstacles.

The High Dune Trail was a passion project of the late Mayor Crystal Dingler. As he walked the trail on Saturday, Angelo Bruscas, a former reporter for Daily world and editor North Coast Newshe recalled early conversations with Dingler about the trail about a decade ago and his repeated question to the mayor: When are you going to get the dune trail?

The city’s official trail effort began in 2018, when the city initially explored building a dune trail that would also act as a fire break. While these projects were ultimately separated, the city allocated $264,000 to the High Dune Trail in its 2019 budget.

Even with additional funding in a grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation, the money proved insufficient after inflationary increases in the price of materials, particularly wood, during the pandemic. In 2022, the city secured another $277,000 grant from the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments to fill the gap, and the trail appeared ready for construction last June.

But final land surveys, a state funding requirement, revealed the city did not own all the land where the trail was supposed to lead. Negotiations over a 200-foot stretch of land in front of the Lighthouse Suites Hotel at the northern end of the trail stalled for months because hotel owners argued the trail would interfere with views for guests.

Continued delays prompted the city last September to authorize the use of eminent domain if an agreement could not be reached. In the end, eminent domain wasn’t necessary — the city signed off on a $2,800 easement to use the land in November 2022, the final step before bidding on the project.

Although future plans have not been confirmed, city officials hope that the completion of the first section of the trail will act as an impetus to create a longer trail system. A longer trail design was originally planned, but was removed for easier funding and scheduling.

Contact reporter Clayton Franke at 406-552-3917 or

Clayton Franke / The Daily World Several dozen people hiked the High Dune Trail at the Chance A La Mer entrance on Saturday, Oct. 28, following the trail's opening ceremony.

Clayton Franke / The Daily World Several dozen people hiked the High Dune Trail at the Chance A La Mer entrance on Saturday, Oct. 28, following the trail’s opening ceremony.

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