Hike of the Week for Friday, April 20, 2012
Old defense post now protects undeveloped Puget Sound coastline
Article and photo by Craig Romano
The Fort Flagler Loop includes a nice stretch of beach hiking.
Location: Marrowstone Island
Land Agency: Washington State Parks
Contact: Washington State Parks: www.parks.wa.gov
Roundtrip: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Access: From Kingston Ferry Terminal, follow SR 104 west for 15 miles turning right onto SR 19. Continue north for 9 miles to Chimicum turning right onto Irondale Road and proceeding 1.6 miles to SR 116. Then, follow SR 116 east for 10 miles to Fort Flagler State Park. Proceed through park entrance turning left in 0.5 mile continuing 1.4 miles to road’s end at a large day-use parking area..
Note: Dogs must be leashed.
Originally established to protect Puget Sound from foreign invaders were five grand military instillations; Forts Ebey, Casey, Worden, Townsend, and Flagler. Fortunately, they never saw combat. Fortunate too, in their decommissioning in the 1950s they were converted to state parks now protecting over 2,300 acres and 9 miles of prime Puget Sound coastline. At 780 acres, Fort Flagler on the northern tip of Marrowstone Island is the largest. It offers fine beach hiking and over seven miles of trails weaving through its forested and historical grounds.
This loop will allow you to sample a few of the many facets of this wonderful maritime park. Walk along and upon towering coastal bluffs graced with stately trees and harboring historical relics. Look too for sea birds, and plenty of resident deer and rabbits along the way.
Start by hiking east on a wide rock-strewn beach (or the bluff trail as an alternative if you prefer not to hike the beach) enjoying a grand view north across Port Townsend Bay to the Victorian city of Port Townsend. Admire Whidbey Island’s lofty chalky bluffs hovering in the distance. An impressive fortress of bluffs soon begins to tower right above you as well. Gaze up at the tall trees teetering atop of them. Good chance a bald eagle or two will be peering down at you. After 1.5 miles of beach strolling, round Marrowstone Point where a knock-out view of Admiralty Inlet awaits you.
Now continue hiking on a wide sandy beach, coming to an old weather-battered pier at 2.2 miles. Time to sample Flagler’s interior now. Find the trail leading from the beach to the Battery Wansboro perched high upon a bluff. Then via a series of short interconnecting trails, work your way back to your starting point. Follow the Lagoon Trail .5 mile to the East Searchlight Trail turning right and proceeding .5 mile to the Anti-Aircraft Battery Trail. Then continue 0.7 mile to the Bankhead Trail turning left for a 0.8 mile hike back to your start. En route you’ll pass a handful of historic structures, and pass through quiet groves of fir, cedar, maple and alder. It’s quite peaceful. Ironic, considering this land was set aside for war.
For more information on this hike and others nearby consult my Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Fort Flagler visit Northwest TripFinder.