5 Clallam County Coastal Parks to Wow You!
by Anne Norup
The magic of road tripping begins with one of the most spectacular stretches of highway you’ve ever dreamed about. A 15-minute drive west of Port Angeles, you’ll find the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca National Scenic Byway on State Route 112.
Delight in corridors of evergreens reaching to the sky then opening into expansive farmland with cattle and horses dotting the bucolic landscapes. But the stars of the show on this scenic drive are five coastal county parks owned and managed by Clallam County, each one easily accessible from SR 112 and each one on the waterfront. www.clallam.net/parks
five parks all indulge the traveler with an eyeful of waves cascading onto the
shoreline, stone sentinels braced to withstand the onslaught of the tides, and
a seemingly endless variety of wildlife.”
County Parks Supervisor Bruce Giddens
“The upper picnic area is like a secret garden. There are rarely people in that part of the park when I visit, so I have it all to myself,” reports Giddens. Majestic evergreens offer a canopy of shade with paved pathways leading to picnic tables and covered shelters. Along the northern fence line, indulge in vistas of Bachelor Rock and the bay below. At the boat launch you’ll find kayakers and anglers getting out on the water. Marine mammals span the shoreline during certain tides so keep a lookout for river otters or even whales further out.
This facility has “national park aesthetics with county park amenities,” describes Giddens. Known for its tide pools and abundant marine life at low tide, especially at the Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary, it also boasts 92 premium campsites, with 39 having water and electrical hookups. One campground is tucked into the forest and the other offers panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca across to Vancouver Island, BC.
Families will love the play area for kids, plus basketball, horseshoe and volleyball courts along with a softball field. Mountain bikers and hikers can access the Striped Peak Recreation Area from the western trailhead. History buffs will be fascinated by the WWII-era story of Camp Hayden and its bunkers, with interpretive signage providing details of its historic significance. Birders will be delighted to know Salt Creek is on the National Audubon’s Olympic Loop of the Greater Washington State Birding Trail.
Take a respite from the twisty road and stop for a picnic with a stunning panorama of ships heading out to sea or to inland ports. Crabbing is popular at low tide from the shore or launch your boat at high tide.
Clallam Bay Spit. (Just before SR 112 veers left in the tiny town of Clallam Bay, follow the brown sign to the Clallam Bay Community Beach Entrance) Here you’ll see the dynamic confluence of the Clallam River as it empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This tidal interaction provides a food source for shore birds and an ever-changing landscape whenever you visit. A full restroom is adjacent to the parking area and a covered picnic shelter provides an idyllic spot to have a bite to eat while enjoying spectacular vistas. If a beach walk is in your sights, cross the bridge to lapping waves. Between April and October, a ramp is in place to make it easy
Clallam Bay West. (This park shares the same parking lot as Clallam Bay Spit) Here you’ll see the dynamic confluence of the Clallam River as it empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This tidal interaction provides a food source for shore birds and an ever-changing landscape whenever you visit. A full restroom is adjacent to the parking area and a covered picnic shelter provides an idyllic spot to have a bite to eat while enjoying spectacular vistas. If a beach walk is in your sights, cross the bridge to lapping waves. Between April and October, a ramp is in place to make it easy
At any of these gorgeous parks, you’ll experience the wonder of nature, discovering its beauty and power as you listen to the whisper of the sea and wind in the trees. Visit www.clallam.net/parks for more information.
About the Author: Anne Norup is an Olympic Peninsula freelance travel writer and provides local insight as a contributing writer for Team Scenic.