Category Archives: History of hikes and outings

Where to Go in January

Where to go in January? When we led groups on walks, here are some of
our favorites for this time of year:

1. On a clear day, walk along the bluffs at Ebey’s Landing, with views
of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.



2. Walk the Quimper Wildlife Corridor from North Beach through Cappy’s
Trails: https://saveland.org/protected-properties/quimper-wildlife-corridor/

3. Explore Fort Flagler’s beaches, bluffs, forests, and historical
structures, keeping an eye out for the resident Bald Eagles.



4. Plan your own route for an “Urban Bestiary Neighborhood Nature
Walk” in Port Townsend, definitely including Point Hudson, Kah Tai
Lagoon, and Chetzemoka Park.

5. Take your binoculars to Gardiner Lagoon, down by the Gardiner boat
launch, an overwintering site for a variety of ducks and geese.

Where to Go in December

In past years, we have led outings to:

  • Anderson Lake — for winter photography.
  • Ft. Casey on Whidbey Island — to explore forests, shores, and the
    lagoon.
  • North Beach, Chinese Gardens, and Kah Tai Lagoon — for birding.
  • Kinney Point on Marrowstone — to study that habitat.

Where to Go in November

November is a chilly month on the Olympic Peninsula, and a time of transition to winter. In past years, our Natural History Society has visited these special places to explore the biodiversity:

Fort Worden– Bring your plant guide and a hand lens, and try to identify plants that look quite different this time of year. Clues like lingering berries, bark, or autumn leaves can help.

Cappy’s Trails– Walk slowly and watch for ways that plants and animals are preparing for winter. Find a map and learn about the Quimper Wildlife Corridor on the Land Trust’s website: saveland.org/protected-properties/quimper-wildlife-corridor/

Waterfalls– Follow a one-mile trail to magnificent Murhut Falls near Brinnon, and a much shorter trail to Rocky Brooks Falls near the Dosewallips River. See how many different mosses and ferns you can find. While driving, keep an eye out for Roosevelt Elk. If you see them, stay in your car to respect their needs.

Mushrooms– Bring a mushroom field guide and explore the dark, damp trails at Fort Townsend. Look for the features that distinguish one mushroom from another. Don’t plan to cook them unless you’re an expert!

Indian Island– Cross the bridge to the island and turn right to park at the first County Park. Follow the trail that parallels the road toward the second County Park. Notice the beautiful Madrona trees, seabirds, and maybe a view of Mt. Rainier.

Exploring Tide Pools

We hope you are all healthy and able to enjoy the beauty of summer on the Olympic Peninsula. Once again this month, our Natural History Society won’t be able to lead an outdoor outing. That’s why several members of our Guiding Committee are sharing alternatives with you. You’ll find a fun scavenger hunt in the May newsletter, and here are a few more suggestions:

To identify what you find, this online guide for local species can be helpful: https://soundwaterstewards.org/ezidweb/

We will enjoy minus tides on these dates: July 1-9; July 17-24; July 29-August 6; August 15-21; and August 26-31. There are huge variations in times of low tide in Puget Sound, so be sure to check a tide table for the beach you plan to visit. This tide table provides 14 days of information. Scroll down to Admiralty Inlet (or elsewhere), choose your location, then scroll down to the bottom to enter the dates.

https://www.saltwatertides.com/dynamic.dir/washingtonsites.html#puget

When exploring tide pools, please follow proper beach etiquette, as explained by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center: Tidepooling Guide

Here are the suggestions from our Guiding Committee:

Hemigrapsus nudus (Purple Shore Crab)

Marcia Schwendiman: Shine Tidelands State Park

Shine Tidelands is located at the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge on Highway 104. Turn north at the junction with Paradise Bay RD then immediately east at the park. This is a fine place to beachcomb, dig clams and oysters (with a permit), launch a kayak, and look for migratory birds. The park entrance is signed and parking is plentiful at the park’s entrance on the shore of Bywater Bay. Two beaches can be explored. To the north, a two-mile round-trip leads to views of a backwater lagoon and ends with a feature called a tombolo which connects the mainland to Hood Head. If the tide is a minus 2 or lower, one can hike south, passing under the Hood Canal Bridge and then stroll along a usually deserted beach littered with glacial erratics, fine habitat for intertidal creatures. Be sure to return to the park before the tide starts coming in or you will not be able to cross back under the Bridge!

 

Oma Landstra: East Beach on Marrowstone

My low tide recommendation is to go to East Beach on Marrowstone and walk as long as you like along the shore. Opportunities to see seals, shells, sea stars and many interesting sights will unfold for you. This walk allows plenty of room for safe distancing and a relaxed walk. Observe what you see, the identifying characteristics that you see, the descriptions of the animals and their colors. Listen to the sounds.

 

Henricia (Blood Star)

Michele Olsen: Salt Creek Recreation Area

My location suggestion is Salt Creek Recreation Area. Tongue Point is great fun to explore at low tide and the park itself is free to access with great spots for picnicking as well as trails to explore. It is a one hour and twenty minute drive from PT. This Clallam County park was recently closed, so check to see if it’s open. If not, you can go early, drive past the park entrance, and down the hill you can park on the right-hand side in a small parking lot (with an outhouse) by Crescent Bay, or just above that in one of two overflow parking lots, then take the trail down to the public beach, on the right side of the creek. You can explore the island in front of the beach, and you might want to scramble over rocks to access Tongue Point. http://www.clallam.net/Parks/SaltCreek.html Happy Trails!!

 

Cucumaria miniata (Red Sea Cucumber)

Lee Merrill: Kinzie Beach at Fort Worden State Park

Kinzie Beach is one of my favorite places for tidal explorations. Things you might find are sponges, anemones and jellies, worms, mollusks, sea slugs, bivalves, crustaceans including crabs, echinoderms, cephalopods, seaweeds, and seagrasses. And there’s more sea-related animals and plants to be found surrounding tide pools, such as marine mammals, shore plants, and shore birds. If you don’t already have a PNW marine life field guide, an excellent resource is available for purchase here: https://shop.orcanetwork.org/product/ez-guide-to-common-intertidal-invertebrates-of-the-salish-sea/

 

Marcia Schwendiman: Miller Peninsula State Park and Thompson Spit

The state’s newest park has a trail leading to a deserted beach on a shoreline facing Protection Island. Traveling north from PT, the park is located off highway 101. Turn right at Diamond Point Road and travel 1.2 miles then turn left to the parking area. Print a map in advance, or take a photo of the map in the parking lot. Follow the fairly well signed trail to the beach, then turn right on the beach to Thompson Spit, known for birding and flowers. The best description of this 7.7 mile round-trip hike is found in Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula by Craig Romano.

 

Dirona albolineata (Frosted Nudibranch)

Wendy Feltham: Indian Island

Whenever there’s a minus tide, I head for Indian Island. You have two choices of County Parks. The first is immediately on your right when you cross the bridge to Indian Island. I like to walk down to the water and turn right, walk under the bridge and along the water’s edge to the old wooden tower. Be careful not to step on the thousands of Aggregating Anemones living on the boulders on the beach! Watch for Ochre Stars, Mottled Stars, Plumose Anemones hanging from the tower, and spectacular seaweed. The second County Park is about a quarter mile down the road, toward Marrowstone, on the right. Drive down to the beach and walk out to the end of “the cut,” a pile of rip rap filled with marine critters.Look for Red Rock Crabs, chitons, the large round egg cases of Lewis’s Moon Snail, and unusual marine worms.

 

Chris Jones: An alternative to looking in tide pools

On a warm summer evening, just after sunset, step outside wherever you are and look for bats doing their amazing sonar-directed chase for their food, flying insects.  We have a lot of bats in our area and they are an important part of our natural environment. Darrell Smith’s presentation on mammals in Nature in Your Neighborhood class inspired this.

A Hike the Length of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor

Cancelled


According to Sarah Spaeth, Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships for Jefferson Land Trust,  “The corridor is important for managing storm water and keeping our local water clean. It also creates an urban wildlife refuge that provides natural habitat and safe passage for mammals, birds, and amphibians. For Port Townsend’s growing population, it provides open space and recreational trails.”