Friday, February 13, 2015

A Winter Day at the Richmond Beach Off-leash Dog Area

Border Collies Playing at Richmond Beach Off-Leash Dog Area
Going to the beach in the winter may seem like a strange idea, but we love going to off-leash dog areas on Puget Sound in the winter especially when it's a sunny day.  The beaches are uncrowded with lots of room for my border collies, Tim and Hank, to run and play.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, Shoreline Washington
Fortunately there are several off-leash dog areas on the shores of Puget Sound in the greater Seattle area.  Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is one of my favorites and it is only open for dogs off-leash during the fall and winter from November 1st through March 15th.  Another great reason to go to the beach in the winter!

Where is Richmond Beach Park?

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is a large park in a gorgeous location on a hillside overlooking Puget Sound.  There are paved paths for walking or biking, picnic areas, interpretive signs and playground areas.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park - Parking Lot

The park is very popular in the summer, so there are several large parking areas at various levels going down the hill.  The parking lot closest to the off-leash dog area is at the bottom nearest the beach. Or you and your dog want more exercise, you can park at the top and walk the extra distance.

Off-Leash Area Sign
A sign at the south end of the lower parking lot marks the way, but is a bit misleading. It was posted when we visited in February when the off-leash area is open, but the sign indicates that the off-leash area is closed and will re-open in November.  Apparently the Shoreline Parks Department doesn't take it down or change the sign during the winter months when the beach is open to dogs off-leash.

Richmond Beach Pedestrian Bridge Across the Railroad Tracks
A pedestrian bridge provides safe passage over the railroad tracks.

Richmond Beach Off-Leash Area Rules
On the other side of the bridge is a sign with the Richmond Beach Off-leash dog park rules and a bit further you can tell you've arrived when you see a sign-post with a doggie waste bag dispenser.

Richmond Beach Off-Leash Park Sign
A few cautionary notes: There are signs posted with the off-leash area boundaries, but there are no fences preventing dogs from leaving the off-leash area of the beach.  There is a fence between the beach and the train tracks when first arriving on the beach and further to the south a shrubby hedge forms a barrier, but it is possible for a dog to find a way onto the train tracks.  Fortunately my dogs have good recall and I keep them down near the waters edge where I can keep an eye on them just to be on the safe side.   There is no drinking water available on the beach, so remember to bring some for both you and your dog.

Let the Border Collie Chase Games Begin
Finally we arrive at the beach and Hank and Tim waste no time before taking off to run along the edge of the surf.

Hank in the Water
Hank loves to splash in the water, so he wades in and gets wet.

Tim Does a Play Bow
Tim entices him back on to the shore with a play bow and an invitation to chase him down the beach again.

A Blur of Border Collies Run Past
Hank turns and takes off down the beach and both run past me in a blur.

Hank bites at the waves
Hank is a bit OCD when it comes to the waves.  He loves to run back and forth along the beach barking at the surf and wades out to try to catch the light reflections in the water.  Tim looks on with undisguised contempt for such silliness.

Harbor Seal Sign
Puget Sound is home to many species of wildlife, including harbor seals which sometimes haul out on the beach to sun and rest. Interpretive signs remind people to be considerate of these creatures by keeping their dogs away from them.

Bald Eagle Flying Over Richmond Beach - Shoreline, WA
As we made our way back to the parking lot, I spotted a bald eagle soaring overhead.  Yet another reason I was glad we went to the beach on a sunny winter day.

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