Hedley Spit, Bainbridge Island

Hedley Spit, Bainbridge Island

by | Oct 7, 2023

Hedley Spit is a sand deposit with an elevation of about 3.5 feet (1 m), located on Bainbridge Island at Point Monroe, north of Faye Bainbridge State Park, about 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Seattle and 1 mile (1.6 km) northeast of Port Madison, Washington. For thousands of years, the Suquamish people and their ancestors lived on Bainbridge Island in nine permanent villages. In 1792, English explorer Captain George Vancouver spent several days with his ship HMS Discovery anchored off Restoration Point at the southern end of Bainbridge Island while boat parties surveyed other parts of Puget Sound. In 1841, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes visited the island while surveying the Pacific Northwest. Wilkes named the island after Commodore William Bainbridge, who was the commander of the frigate USS Constitution in the War of 1812. Wilkes also named Point Monroe and Port Madison for Presidents James Monroe and James Madison, respectively.

Bainbridge Island was historically known by the Squamish for huge and accessible cedar trees used for dugout canoes. Canoes were an integral part of Suquamish culture and a primary mode of transportation. The heavily forested land made foot travel difficult, and the canoe was essential for harvesting subsistence foods such as salmon and other fish, berries, roots, wild potatoes, and seagrasses. These foods were seasonal and regional, and the Suquamish needed to be in particular places at specific times of the year to harvest them. The canoe allowed them to travel long distances in a relatively short time, assuring quantities of food, establishment and renewal of tribal alliances, and the preservation of social and ceremonial contacts, which in turn permitted the culture to flourish beyond mere survival.

Hedley Spit was reputedly named after an early pioneer and represents accreting sediments transported north by alongshore currents from eroding bluffs on the eastern shore of Bainbridge Island. The bluffs extend from Skiff Point in the south to Point Monroe in the north and are a critical sediment source for local beaches that gradually increase in width from south to north. About 45% of this shoreline has been modified which accounts for a loss of 5,209 feet (158 m) of sediment source. Consequently, the bluffs have been identified as a priority area for conservation to maintain the beaches and Hedley Spit. Rising sea level already affects residential properties developed on Hedley Spit and by the middle of this century, many of these waterfront properties may experience severe erosion and inundation. Read more here and here. Explore more of Hedley Spit and Bainbridge Island here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2022 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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