Hood Canal outings, from kayaking to wetland walks
A visit to Hood Canal can include some kayaking on scenic waterways, a tasting at a longtime winery, a visit to a wetlands preserve with a new estuary trail, and one of the Olympic National Forest’s favorite hikes.
Seattle Times features editor
Want some more action? Consider these outings around Hood Canal near Alderbrook:
Here’s one way to experience peace on earth: Quietly paddle a solo kayak on still waters, with the mighty Olympics standing sentinel in the distance.
You can rent kayaks at Alderbrook and launch from the dock. Or, for a more solitary sojourn, book with Hood Canal Adventures, which offers fresh- and saltwater tours, guided or self-guided, on several area waterways. The company’s affable owners, David and Valerie Wagner, will match you with the outing that’s right for you. One option: a two-hour paddle setting off from the Waterfront at Potlatch (15 minutes from Alderbrook), affording close encounters with seals and eagles. hoodcanaladventures.com.
Hoodsport staked a claim to the Washington wine industry early, in 1978. Located just south of Hoodsport on Highway 101, it welcomes visitors for tastings daily. For sale are wines; cordials; jams; truffles and more. 800-580-9894 or hoodsport.com.
Mary E. Theler Wetlands Nature Preserve
About 30 minutes north of Alderbrook, in Belfair, you’ll find this preserve, whose diverse habitats — marshes, forests, river estuaries and more — support a variety of birds, animals and plants. Several miles of trails are open to the public all daylight hours, including a newly opened estuary trail. The Theler Preserve is especially known for its fall colors. thelercenter.org.
For experienced hikers, this is a don’t-miss hike. (Outdoors expert and guidebook author Craig Romano has written, “If for some terrible reason you are only allowed one hike in the Olympics in your lifetime, this should be it.”)
It’s a 10.6-mile round-trip trek in the Olympic National Forest, with deep woods, a burbling river and — toward the top — stunning vistas of the mountains and Puget Sound. The trailhead is a little less than an hour north of Alderbrook on the Olympic Peninsula side of the canal. For details, see the Washington Trails Association website, wta.org.