By Jaime Cary
Mountain to Sound Outfitters
Want to get out of town but don’t want to drive hours through holiday traffic to get away? Here are three amazing overnight paddling adventures that don’t involve a huge drive from Seattle.
The closest camping experience you can get to from down town Seattle is Blake Island, which is one of the most unique camping experiences in Puget Sound. It is the nearest state park to the city of Seattle, and can only be reached by watercraft.
To get there you can launch from Manchester, Bainbridge, Vashon, or Alki Beach, depending on your comfort level crossing open water. Campsites are available on a first come first serve basis. If you’re looking for a “glamping” experience you can camp near Tillicum Village and stroll over to the longhouse for a salmon dinner and Native American Dancing (you can sign up on location up to an hour beforehand). If you’re looking to rough it, the Cascadia Marine Trail location on the west side of the island has primitive campsites and beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains to the west.
Agate Passage to Port Madison
Want to check out the north shore of Bainbridge island from the cockpit of your kayak? This route starts at the Squamish Museum and Tribal Center on the Kitsap peninsula. From there, you can paddle north through the Agate Passage on the way to Fay Bainbridge Park, where you can choose from one of 14 campsites for the night before returning. On the way you can check out Haleelts Rock at Agate Point. The rock features petroglyphs thought to be between 1500 and 3000 years old. In addition, the high tide lagoon at Point Monroe is worth exploring.
Whidbey Island: Keystone to Hastie Lake Boat Ramp
This point to point paddle adventure passes by three parks. You can see the historic lighthouse above Admiralty Head, check out the estuary at Ebey’s Landing, and explore miles of empty beaches and vertical bluffs. Launch from either Admiralty Bay or Fort Ebey State Park and work your way north along the shore until you reach your campsite at Partridge Park. From there, you can hike up to a World War II observation bunker. After that, continue traveling north to Hastie Lake boat ramp, where you will take out. On clear days this stretch boasts amazing views of the Olympic mountains.
More detailed trip itineraries can be found on Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands by Rob Casey. This book and the rest of the equipment you need to go kayaking can be found at Mountain to Sound Outfitters located in West Seattle.