West Puget Sound is a playground for people of all ages, especially for those who love the outdoors. Whether you’re splashing around in the sound, hiking in Olympic National Park, or exploring the islands, you can find an outdoor adventure any time of year. The Olympic Peninsula is truly a special place, with old-growth forests, historic towns radiating with charm, and, of course, beautiful scenery as far as the eye can see.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure for a day or a weekend, consider some of these outdoor activities in West Puget Sound.
Hood Canal Trails and Parks
Located at the head of Hood Canal, at the tip of its hook, is Belfair State Park. Bring the camper, rent a cabin, or pack up the tent if you want to spend a few days, or just drive out for a day trip to explore the trails, fly a kite, try your hand at windsurfing, or relax on the saltwater beach. Pack your shellfish-harvesting or fishing gear for a fresh seaside meal cooked up on one of the braziers in the picnic area. Younger children will enjoy the playground and interpretive programs in the summer months. There is also a large grassy field for striking up an impromptu game of soccer or Wiffle ball.
If a leisurely hike is more your style, check out the Mary E. Theler Wetlands Nature Preserve trail just across from Hood Canal. Explore 139 acres of salt marsh from a series of boardwalks that are easy to navigate and prevent walkers from disturbing the landscape. The round-trip is less than four miles, with a viewing platform overlooking a river at the end of the trail. With distant mountains peeking over the treetops and waterfowl playing in the wetlands, the kids will love this easy nature hike.
Farther down Hood Canal, just where it bends, you’ll find Potlatch State Park. Known for its shellfish-harvesting areas, Potlatch is a perfect place to take the kids for an outdoor adventure that ends in a hearty meal. Look for clams, oysters, and crabs (and be sure you have the right licenses) along the beaches. Parents can join in the digging or sit back and watch the kids with their pails while the colorful windsurfers and kayakers provide a peaceful backdrop.
Continue north along Hood Canal and you’ll reach Dosewallips State Park, where you can find even more beaches for harvesting shellfish. You might be joined by the local elk herds that roam through the area. Bring your tent and set it up on one of the riverside campsites where you’ll hear the burbling water as you drift off to sleep after a day of fun in the park. Paddle across the canal to Scenic Beach State Park and you’ll see that its name does not disappoint. Locals love this area for its romantic vibe, so you might see a wedding party celebrating in the gazebo as you stroll in search of the perfect spot for viewing Mount Olympus. If you’re in the area in springtime, be sure to stop by the park to see the native rhododendrons in full bloom.
Port Townsend Forts and Gardens
If you’ve got history lovers in the family, make the trip to the Port Townsend area to see some of the old forts. Fort Worden Historical State Park was once a military base designed to protect Puget Sound. With two miles of shoreline and 100 historic structures, you might need more than one day to explore everything. Reserve a campsite or stay in one of the renovated old barracks or officers’ homes if you don’t want the rustic feel of tent camping. No matter where you stay, you’ll enjoy views of the San Juan Islands, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and both the Olympic and Cascade Mountains after wandering through the parade lawns on a self-guided walking tour.
Continue your historical tour of the area with a stop at Fort Townsend Historical State Park. A former US Army site, this park has traces of its military past enveloped in natural beauty. A quieter version of Fort Worden, this park has six miles of peaceful forested trails and beach views of Port Townsend Bay. Kids can explore historic buildings such as the 1800’s stable, torpedo tower, and Friends’ Barn. The parade lawn is often host to educational events, so check the calendar when you arrive to see what is scheduled during your visit.
While you’re in the Port Townsend area, take a walk through Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park. Home to dozens of species of waterfowl and other birds, Kah Tai is, not surprisingly, on the Olympic Loop of the Audubon Society’s Great Washington State Birding Trail. Wheelchair-accessible trails on the south side of the lagoon allow the entire family to enjoy this nature park, and because it’s nestled right in the city, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon after lunch in Port Townsend.
Olympic National Park
You can’t live in the West Puget Sound area without venturing into Olympic National Park. Of course, with almost a million acres to explore, you’ll need to visit more than once to appreciate the diversity the park has to offer. If you’re coming from Port Angeles, you’ll find easy access to Hurricane Ridge. You can hike along the ridge for excellent mountain views, or drop down into one of the valleys to see a pristine lake surrounded by wildflowers in spring. In the snowy months, bring your cross-country skis or snowshoes for an invigorating walk, or pack the sleds so the kids can fly down the slopes.
For a coastal adventure, check out one of the many beaches in the park. At the north end of the coast, you’ll find Ozette, which is surrounded by saltwater beaches on the western Pacific Coast and the freshwater shores of Ozette Lake in the east. Be sure to stop by the cultural center to see the artifacts that have been discovered in the local village that was covered in a mudslide 300 years ago. Head south to Mora and Rialto Beach for the unique combination of epic water views and towering trees. Even further down the coast you’ll find Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, a protected marine refuge that is home to nesting colonies of birds. Keep your eyes peeled for puffins!
For a peaceful mountain experience, make your way to Lake Crescent. Tucked away in the foothills, the glass-like waters are both mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, especially when a clear blue sky is reflected in them. Rent a rowboat or a canoe for a relaxing tour around the lake. Pack a picnic for a serene shoreside lunch. There are also plenty of hiking trails in the area for finding new views and letting the kids burn some energy going up and down the mountain slopes. Not far from Lake Crescent, the Sol Duc Valley is defined by the salmon-rich river that runs through it. Rushing falls, relaxing hot springs, and spawning salmon can all be found in this section of the park.
Mountains and beaches aren’t the only natural features you’ll find in Olympic National Park. You can also explore the temperate rainforests west of the mountains. Hoh Rain Forest is a picture-perfect, lush landscape of moss-covered trees. The vibrant ferns that carpet the forest floor are illuminated by the shafts of sunlight that slice through the canopy high above. Get immersed in this unique landscape on one of the family-friendly nature trails, or strike out on a more vigorous hike to Glacier Meadows. At the southern end of the park, Quinalt Rain Forest offers a different type of landscape with immaculate lakes and alpine meadows. A short loop trail brings you to an old homestead and orchard for the kids to explore.
West Puget Sound is a natural wonderland where families of all types enjoy outdoor activities all year long. If you’re considering settling in the area, talk to the folks at the Adair Homes branch in Silverdale about building a new custom home. Whether you’re new to the process or have built homes in the past, we’re here to help you every step of the way. If you need to buy land, we’ll connect you with a real estate agent we trust. If you need financing, our sister company Allied Financial Services offers a range of loan types to suit your needs. Our design team will work closely with you to customize your favorite floor plan, and our Home Ownership Counselors are a valuable resource available to you throughout the entire process. Contact us today to get started.