Fort Worden State Park, Rick McCharles, flickr CC
Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend
Stunning Fort Worden Historical State Park, once a military fort, boasts more than two miles of saltwater shoreline, historic buildings and miles of trails, some of which lead to battery structures. Set your young explorers loose on Artillery Hill’s trail system.
Highlights include being able to walk the dank, unlit tunnels of 12 former batteries, which were emplacements for guns that used to protect the entrance to Puget Sound and the Navy yard at Bremerton.
“The Fort, along with Forts Casey and Flagler, were constructed between 1897 and 1905. The guns were removed from the forts beginning in World War I and never replaced. All three forts were decommissioned by 1953, having never fired a gun in anger,” says Tim Caldwell, Fort Worden guest services representative.
Tips: Trail maps are available at the Commons building on the Fort Worden campus (where you can also pick up coffee and snacks). Use caution when climbing the stairs of the gun emplacements, since many lack bannisters or hand rails. Bring a flashlight to explore the fun but very dark and twisty tunnels. There are open areas with no barriers in front of most of the gun emplacements that lead to the bluff overlooking the straits and the sound.
Info: Note that you need a Discover Pass for parking, since it is a state park.
Don’t miss: Memory’s Vault, an area on Artillery Hill with pillars of poetry written by Sam Hamill that speaks to the fort’s sights, sounds, history, and weather. Or venture to Fort Flagler, on the other side of Port Townsend Bay on Marrowstone Island, which also has gun emplacements to explore along with a 1905 military hospital and plenty of beach space for fort-building.