The recent dusting of snow on the Olympic range perfectly complements the crisp blues of Hood Canal below.
Hood Canal: A recipe for outdoor therapy
by Rachel Hansen
Let’s face it. In just a matter of days, social distancing is the new norm, and family time has become our focus. It’s a huge adjustment for our daily schedule, but for Washington residents who view the glorious Olympics in their daily commute, there is one simple solution: go outside. While a lot of the world is closed, the great outdoors is the perfect place to find respite and enjoy this amazing spring sunshine following that last defiant burst of snow that has delicately dusted all the peaks. Gather your loved ones, stay healthy, and embrace nature.
Hood Canal is at its best in the spring. March and April bring new life and everywhere there are vivid signs of renewal.”
Less than two hours from Seattle, Hood Canal is home to the less frequented access points of the Olympic National Park and forest, as well as a variety of Washington State Parks. Olympic NP is open. In a recent press release (March 15), the Park reported that “the NPS is closely monitoring the situation related to the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19). Visitors can be assured that national parks continue to maintain high standards related to the health and wellness of staff and visitors.”
The Olympic Forest has adopted the hashtag #SocialDistancing, tweeting updates daily. Washington State Parks is committed to remaining open despite the recent shutdowns, tweeting, “by "recreation facilities" the Governor's press conference mentioned gyms, places like that. But not state parks.” Things change quick these days, so be sure to check their social media before heading out. Hood Canal is a great place to get a little space and feel a healing burst of Vitamin D hit your face.
Where do you start? There’s so much to do on Hood Canal to get you away from it all. Whether you choose to dust off the travel trailer, reserve a park yurt or give yourself plenty of space to roam in a cabin complete with kayaks and a private oyster beach for you to enjoy – it’s up to you!
Fill your days with enriching activities
Kayaking is a great way to get up close and personal with nature. Hood Canal Adventures delivers to your campsite and offers private kayaking tours this Spring limited to your group between 2 and 9 guests and a guide. All equipment will be thoroughly cleaned.
In some ways, Hood Canal is at its best in the spring. March and April bring new life and everywhere there are vivid signs of renewal. Currently near Seal Rock there is an unprecedented burst of activity with a record Pacific herring spawn. The phenomena starts with inner shore waters turning milky white as the fertilized fish spawn (milt) attaches to every available surface including seaweeds, rocks and even tree branches. Within days the seaweeds are encrusted with brilliant clusters of eggs followed by masses of predators like bald eagles, seabirds, seals, otters and even whales for a frenzy of feeding on the fjord’s bounty.
Well known for its year-round, family friendly campground (complete with yurts) and excellent fishing and shell fishing opportunities, Dosewallips State Park also contains a wonderful network of hiking trails. Photo ©Craig Romano.
You don’t have to be a scuba diver or own a boat to experience these wonders. With the end of winter near, the longer days are revealing fantastic creatures at daytime tides where access to nature – and your own bounty of shellfish to harvest – is an added bonus to the adventure. Remember to roll the rocks carefully as you explore as these creatures and eggs are all a part of a delicate ecosystem.
Enjoy a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop view of 5,960-foot Mount Bretherton reflecting in Upper Lena Lake. Photo: ©Craig Romano
The Hood Canal area is famous for its hiking and again, spring is a great time to check out the local trails. Along with refreshing waterfalls, burbling streams and fresh sprouts of greenery, enjoy hikes that suit just about any level of activity. Many of these trails are perfect for families and pets. Recently, guidebook author Craig Romano took Explore Hood Canal on an illustrated journey along the Big Creek Loop which is suitable for children and dogs. The 4.2 mile Big Creek Loop hike is all about the journey—not the destination. The trail winds along forested slopes above Lake Cushman crossing tumbling creeks on a series of beautifully constructed bridges. Craig’s overview of Lena Lake offers options for a family friendly hike and a more strenuous adventure to Upper Lena Lake in the Olympic National Park.
Tracing the Fjord
Start making plans today for a good dose of outdoor therapy. For additional inspiration on things to do and places to stay, visit explorehoodcanal.com. A useful resource is the quarterly area magazine, Tracing the Fjord. Little brings family closer together than shared memories in the great outdoors. Hood Canal has your family covered. CLICK HERE for an online version of the guide.