Courtesy Hood Canal Adventures (formerly Kayak Brinnon)
Nearby Olympic Peninsula: Hood Canal
For a weekend adventure, the west side of Hood Canal is easy to access. Technically a fjord, Hood Canal is the body of water that separates the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. With calmer waters and millions of tiny inlets, it’s also home to breathtaking views and incredible wildlife.
You can reach Hood Canal in several ways. We usually take the Edmonds/Kingston ferry to the Kitsap Peninsula, heading west on State Route 104. This will take you across the Hood Canal Bridge and from there, you can connect to U.S. Highway 101 — the famous Olympic Loop Highway.
Heading south on Highway 101, you’ll weave in and out of national forestland. Several Olympic National Forest campgrounds along this stretch (campsites are first-come, first served; you can’t reserve sites) can serve as home base for a weekend full of nature. Try Collins Campground, located in Olympic National Forest on the shores of the Duckabush River or Seal Rock Campground, located right on Hood Canal. (Falls View Campground, with a loop trail to the cascading waterfall on the Big Quilcene River, remains closed during summer 2020.)
If you’re looking to reserve a site before you go, try Dosewallips State Park, where you can rent cabins as well as camp right along the river. The day-use area of this park has a wide, flat beach along the Dosewallips River, perfect for skipping rocks or playing in the sand. Pro tip: Bring a towel and some sandwiches because a short trip down to the beach is never short, or clean. (Nothing says “vacationing with the kids” quite like 37 pounds of sand on the floor of the car.)
Up for more adventure? Go kayaking! Just off Highway 101 in Brinnon, find Hood Canal Adventures. Owner Christina Maloney has over a decade of experience leading kayak tours. Rent by the hour or go on her educational wildlife tour; either way, be prepared to get blown away by sights of bald eagles, rock crabs in tidal inlets and fish of all sorts — your kids will be talking about it for days.