Discovery Trail Half Marathon will Showcase Varied Landscapes on Southwest Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula on Sept. 15, 2012

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Half marathon calls attention to the impressive system of trails on Southwest Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula. An estimated 26 miles of trails traverse the peninsula through grassy dunes and old growth forests, over rocky headlands, around wetlands and through scrub pine forest. The trail system is highlighted by the paved, 8.5-mile coastal gem -- Discovery Trail.

Southwest Washington, Long Beach Peninsula, Discovery Trail, Lewis and Clark, bike trail, pedestrian trail, ADA trail

An engraved, columnar basalt monolith is one of several interpretative markers enjoyed by cyclists and walkers along Discovery Trail.

You can easily hike through an ancient Sitka spruce forest, bike along sand dunes, follow a path from pristine Willapa Bay to the edge of the continent all in one day.

Showcasing the amazing trail system on Southwest Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, the certified Discovery Trail Half Marathon is expected to draw competitive and recreational runners from throughout the Northwest and beyond to this 28-mile long spit of sand on Sept. 15, 2012. The inviting course follows the contours of the dunes with inspiring glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and Cape Disappointment headlands. Online registration is available at https://www.databarevents.com/btchalf.asp for this scenic, pristine, invigorating and challenging race.

“No other place along the coast has the variety of trails as does the Long Beach Peninsula,” remarked Andi Day, Executive Director, Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. “You can easily hike through an ancient Sitka spruce forest, bike along sand dunes, follow a path from pristine Willapa Bay to the edge of the continent all in one day. The half marathon is a great way to introduce people to our rich offerings.”

Well known for razor clamming, charter fishing, bird watching and 28 miles of wide-open beach, Southwest Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula boasts an impressive system of trails. An estimated 26 miles of trails traverse the peninsula through grassy dunes and old growth forests, over rocky headlands, around wetlands and through scrub pine forest.

The centerpiece of the system is Discovery Trail. This one-of-a-kind, 8.5 mile long coastal interpretive trail stretches from the fishing village of Ilwaco, across the Cape Disappointment headlands to Beard’s Hollow. From there it meanders through the dunes continuing to one-mile north of the Long Beach boardwalk. The trail, nearly a decade in the making, is a remarkable public legacy of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.

The interpretive markers along the trail, including the skeleton of a gray whale, were inspired by a passage from Captain William Clark’s journals:

"I proceeded on the Sandy Coast 4 miles, and marked my name on a Small pine, the Day of the month & year, &c. and returned to the foot of the hill, from which place I intended to Strike across to The Bay, I saw a Sturgeon which had been thrown on Shore and left by the tide 10 feet in length, and Several joints of the back bone of a whale which must have foundered on this part of the Coast." (Moulton edition, The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, p. 70.)

A bronze condor anchors the south end of Discovery Trail near the Ilwaco marina. A 20-foot tall bronze sculpture of a windswept pine, Clark’s Tree marks the northern terminus, approximating the farthest reach of William Clark’s walk up the Long Beach Peninsula on Nov. 19, 1805. Other markers include a basalt monolith, statue of William Clark and a bronze sturgeon.

Site of a September, certified half-marathon run, Discovery Trail is ideal for pedestrians and bicyclists seeking the sheer enjoyment of traveling through little developed coastline, hearing the rustling grassy dunes, feeling mist-laden Pacific breezes on one’s face, watching the crashing Pacific surf, exploring tidal wetlands, and smelling the musty understory of an old growth forest.

Other notable trails are located in Cape Disappointment and Leadbetter state parks. One trail climbs through old growth Sitka spruce and Douglas fir from Beard’s Hollow to North Head lighthouse. Another extends south from North Head to Benson Beach. Trails in Leadbetter Point fringe Willapa Bay and extend into the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, rounding the northern-most tip of the peninsula to a sand dollar-strewn Pacific Ocean beach.

Near the headquarters of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is another unique trail, the Willapa Interpretive Art Trail. This short trail is remarkable for a quarter-mile boardwalk graced with 25 life-size bronze sculptures of native amphibians.

A 28-mile long spit of land in the southwestern-most corner of Washington, the Long Beach Peninsula is home to a string of coastal communities with satisfying restaurants, fresh seafood, comfortable accommodations, unique shops, and fine art galleries. Attractions include national and state parks, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, two historic lighthouses, an 8.5-mile paved coastal bike and pedestrian trail, a wildlife refuge, one-of-a-kind museums, and a 26-mile-long stretch of wide, sandy, public beach.

For more information on the Long Beach Peninsula’s trails and recreational offerings, please call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau at 800-451-2542 or access http://www.funbeach.com.

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Carol Zahorsky
Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau
360.446.3645 360.481.1752 (cell)
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Andi Day
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