South Indian Island — Enjoy peaceful shoreline strolling along a line of defense


Quick Facts:

Location: Indian Island near Port Hadlock

Land Agency: Jefferson County Parks

Roundtrip: 4.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 70 feet

Notes: Detailed information can be found in Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula (Mountaineers Books)

Contact: Jefferson County Parks 

Access: From Kingston, drive State Route 104 turning right onto SR 19. Then continue north for 9 miles turning right onto Chimacum Road. Continue for 1.6 miles turning right onto SR 116. Then follow SR 116 east for 1.7 miles turning right immediately upon crossing bridge to Indian Island into parking area and trailhead

Good to Know: dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike, kid-friendly, exceptional bird watching


Hike through a forest of madronas and Doug-firs to a long sandy beach with impressive views of Mount Rainier on the horizon. Explore a narrow spit and a lagoon flourishing with birds. The 142-acre Indian Island County Park offers some of the best beach walking this side of the Olympic Peninsula.

Author enjoying a deserted beach.

Once connected to the Quimper Peninsula by a low stretch of land, in 1913 Port Townsend merchants had a channel dredged, effectively rendering Indian Island an island. But it was the US Navy that cutoff most of this landmass from the public by establishing an ammunition storage depot here. Fortunately, a narrow strip along the south shore of the island has been established as parkland. And what a park—one of the best stretches of Salish Sea shoreline for strolling!

From the grassy picnic area, follow the Portage Trail east through a tunnel of vegetation along Portage Canal. The trail brushes up against some marshy openings, ideal for looking for eagles and herons. It then climbs back up a bluff, ending at the park’s beach access road after a half mile.

You can continue by hiking left on the road a short distance—and then follow the Lagoon Trail for .4 mile on a bluff above a big lagoon that teems with birds. But I prefer heading right to an incredible stretch of beach. Walk the road descending from the bluff and reaching the inviting beach. If the tide is low, rock hop or wade the small creek draining the lagoon. Then start walking east along a sandy spit, one of the finest stretches of beaches in the region. At a little more than a mile, pass a parking area (and an alternative start if you don’t want to cross the creek).

Continue your beach walk around glacial till bluffs taking in sweeping views across Oak Bay to Mount Rainier. Pass a trail leading left to another parking area and connecting with the Isthmus Trail which parallels the road connecting the park’s two eastern parking areas. Continue east on a narrow rocky strip of beach along marshes connecting Indian to Marrowstone Island. At 2.0 miles, the public beach ends. Turn around and enjoy your shoreline stroll all over again.


South Indian Island is one of 136 featured hikes in my fully updated and expanded Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 2nd Edition (Mountaineers Book). For more details on this hike and others (including several near Port Hadlock and Port Townsend), pick up a copy of this book—the number one selling and most trusted guidebook on hiking in the Olympics—today!

For information on where to stay and on other things to do on the Olympic Peninsula, check out                 Northwest TripFinder

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