Questions about Port Townsend

My husband and I are flying to Port Townsend, WA, for a visit in late April. Neither of us has been there before, though if I like it I’ll drive out for a longer visit in summer (with my kayak, of course).

  1. Recommendations for rental sea kayaks? We’re not going to do anything crazy, but we still want decent-fitting sea kayaks with sprayskirts.

  2. Best outdoorsy things to do? We figure we’ll hike and gawk into tidepools in Olympic NP (probably more than once), visit Fort Worden and Fort Flagler, look for whales and other sea mammals, and walk all around town.

    Got the plane, rental car, and B&B reservations squared away. Now to fill out the skeleton!

Tourist sites
It’s been a while since I spent the summer there, but here’s what I have fond memories of:

Fort Worden - nice to walk around, good views, etc. Pt. Townsend itself is a lot of fun. You should consider going by Pygmy Boats while you’re there to try out some of their designs. Plenty of bars and B&Bs - I recommend the Waterstreet, we had a nice suite there a while back:

well worth the price and close to good bars and restaurants.

The Olympic National Park is good all over - the drive to Hurricane Ridge is spectacular, as is the Elwha River which I think is on the way. The old Lodge at Crescent Lake is a beautiful spot, and the nearby dayhike to Marymere Falls is highly recommended.

Cape Ozette and the Hoh River Valley are fairly far but worth the effort if you don’t mind driving.

Enjoy, it won’t be difficult, how many places can you go from ocean beaches to rain forest to alpine snow fields in an hour or so?

so much to do, so little time
There is sooo many things to do.

Olympic NP- most all high hiking trails will be under snow; for hiking, the lower elevation rain forest trails are great. The Hoh is very accessible; shorter and less used is Queets, longer and even less used is Bogachiel. All provide that rainforest experience.

Coast hiking is spectacular. Rialto to Hole-in-the-Wall is popular, but worth it. Third Beach is a very short hike, and the town at theend of the road, La Push, has a salty, blue collar appeal. Any of the above can be combined in just one day.

A longer day would be to go to Neah Bay. I always feel like I am entering a foreign country when I enter the Makah Reservation. At first it appears very poor, but the people who live there give off a tremendous feeling of community. The Makah Museum, while small, is really cool. The hiking is fantastic- take the short walk out to Cape Flattery, then whimper because you are not in a kayak. Spectacular. The hike out and back to ShiShi can be done in one day. There are some logging roads that wind around Bahokus Peak, and if there is clear weather, you can get spectacular views of Tatoosh Island, and across to Vancouver Island. More whimpering, 'cuz you are not in a kayak-although the stretch of water between Tatoosh I. and Cape Flattery can be burly, like this picture-

I don’t know of any places that rent good kayaks, but I think that Adventures Through Kayaking in Port Angeles is a Valley dealer, so there is some hope. There is pleasant paddling all around Port Townsend, but do get tidal current info- the currents can get quite strong, and on the northern part of the point there are several good sized tide rips. Very fun.

If you can rent kayaks (and wheels), and are up for an outstanding but demanding kayak journey, paddle from Port Angeles to Victoria, BC, and take the ferry back!

Forget about B&B
All they do is argue in there.

If you sail, I’d rent a sailboat and sail to the San Juans. Carl Nyberg’s “Gunkholing in the San Juans” is the best source around. For kayaking, look up Chris Duff in the phone book and ask if you can borrow a boat.

Did this last fall.
Rented a nice Eddyline tandem from All the gear was good quality and in good condition. Plenty helpful with foam blocks and lots of straps to cartop on a rental car.

Launched at the west end of Freshwater bay and headed west. Spectacular scenery, otters, seals, starfish, jellyfish.

Hiking in Hoh forest amongst the giant trees is great. We were fortunate enough to encounter a bull elk and several cows grazing just a few yards off the trail.

Rialto beach is fascinating.

We wanted, but did not get the opportunity to walk out out along Dungeness Spit. (closes at dusk)

Skip the towns, they are not that interesting.

P.T. , Wash. …
…stop by Pygmy boats and try out their wooden boats . they r located on PT.

Whimpering about not having kayak
I expect to be doing some of that, but since this is a reconnaissance trip, it only whets the appetite for when I drive out with my kayak. I’ll have more time then, too. I plan to include a short paddle-camping excursion then; it’d be a good opp to apply what I’ve been learning the last few years.

Great photo, fog (or is that just suspended spray?) and all.

The hiking sounds beautiful, and quite different from what we have here. I expect to be electrified by the sheer GREENNESS of the vegetation. And we’re bringing our rain gear!

Dumb question: What kinds of footwear do people use to hike in such wet areas as Olympic NP? Should we be buying NEOS rubber overshoes? Around here, we just let walking shoes get wet for day hikes–nonleather boots dry reasonably fast if put in the sun. My leather backpacking boots have a Gore-tex liner, but those would be overkill when not carrying a backpack. Also, we want to bring all clothing in carry-on bags, no checked luggage.

Diversity of ecosystems
That’s one of the appeals about the area. And a bit farther east, it dries out and gets downright HOT in summer, with gorgeous lakes near the Canadian border.

Some pics
Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite.


– Last Updated: Mar-31-11 4:28 PM EST –

One of the best hiking trips in my youth was three days along the ocean, then up the Hoh River Valley until we hit snow. An incredible week or so. Goretex boots would be ideal - wish I'd had them back in the 70s, I recall a lot of wet walking.

Hiking footwear
I would agree, leather hiking boots would be overkill.

For the day hiking possibilities I mentioned, my top choice would be gore-tex trail running shoes, with a ankle high gaitor. Tied with that choice would be one of the “fastpacking” style hiking shoes that are often nothing more than a high-cut version of a trail running shoe.

For hiking the beaches, I would throw two things into the daypack- some sandals, and extra socks.

Many of the beach trails are able to be connected by rounding headlands at low tide, so take a tide table with you on beach hikes. Some of the trails that have “must make moves” around headlands, now have cable stairways over them so that one doesn’t have to have those tide tables.

For tide pooling, river style sandals combined with neoprene socks are the bomb.

As for that picture, it was a combination of fog and spray. BTW, the hike out to the lookout at Cape Flattery can get you a hikers side view of that same place!

I did it…joined the WWTA
Washington Water Trails Association.

Also ordered 6 of their waterproof charts intended specifically for kayakers. Between the April recon visit and studying the charts and other resources, I should actually be able to plan some outings for when I bring my kayak. Something to look forward to!

Tide tables
Absolutely will have those even where not necessary due to man-made helpers such as the cables. I just like to know more about what the sea is doing.

We have Keen sandals and will pair them with thin neoprene socks. Great idea, since the Keen soles stick well to rock, and both sandals and neoprene socks are washable. Don’t even want to think about salt sores where the straps would press on bare feet, which happened to me when I paddled a SOT in California.

take bicycles

– Last Updated: Apr-05-11 11:08 AM EST –

or rent them and take a ferry to Friday Harbor, look at Orcas. Down town PT has some very good restaurants and the Rose Theater is the perfect little town movie theater. Hanazono noodle shop next door has good udon. Go visit Joe Greenley/RedFish kayaks. Wander around new marine center at Port Hudson.

Port Hadlock, Ajax Cafe. You can rent small cabin/house next door for about the same price as B&B rental in Pt. Townsend. Ajax Cafe has excellent food and music a couple nights/week.