Fort Flagler. Credit: John Stahl/Flickr CC
Island hike: Fort Flagler
Where: Find historic Fort Flagler on the Olympic Peninsula near Port Townsend, about 2.5–3 hours’ drive from the Seattle area, not including ferry wait time.
Stats: 5 miles round trip; 150-foot elevation gain; Discover Pass required to park
Contact: Fort Flagler Historical State Park, 360-385-1259
Kids will love ... a hike that weaves through living history. One of Puget Sound’s finest state parks was once one of five military installations built locally in case of an enemy attack. The invasion never came, but this U.S. Army coast artillery fort still stands, with interpretive signs to tell the tale.
Set on the northern tip of Marrowstone Island, Fort Flagler is often confused with its more popular cousin, Fort Worden State Park, which sits just a few miles to the west in the Victorian town of Port Townsend. But with more than 7 miles of hiking trails and 3.5 miles of beautiful beaches, Flagler is double the size and has twice the coastline.
This loop trail sets off from the park’s lower campground on a wide, stone-strewn beach heading east along a bluff with stunning vistas. You’re in the “rain shadow” here and may dodge drizzle, but you won’t be so lucky when it comes to the wind; dress warmly.
At 2.25 miles, leave the shoreline behind as the trail climbs a bluff, twists around a lagoon and eventually leads you back to your car. Along the way, you’ll pass a handful of historic buildings and bunkers. Bring binoculars to spot majestic bald eagles and dabbling ducks.
Getting there: From Seattle, catch a ferry across Puget Sound and cross the Hood Canal Bridge on State Route 104. Take a right onto State Route 19 (Beaver Valley Road) and head north for about 10 miles. Turn right onto State Route 116 (Irondale Road), driving east. The road crosses over Indian Island to Marrowstone Island. Continue north on SR 116 all the way up Marrowstone to Fort Flagler State Park.
More hikes like this: A hike at Ebey’s Landing, on the western edge of Whidbey Island, has it all: pounding surf, wild beach, a grassy bluff and dramatic views of the Olympics. On Orcas Island, take a short hike along a wooded bluff dotted with madrona trees down to 150 yards of uncrowded pebble beach at Obstruction Pass.
Editor’s notes: Image credit this page: Jon Stahl/Flickr CC. This article was originally published in 2019 and has been updated most recently for 2023.