By Dorothy Rice Bennett
The Olympic Peninsula is largely made up of parklands—beginning with the magnificent Olympic National Park, which—along with the US Forest Service lands—makes up the bulk of the Peninsula. In addition, there are several smaller state and county parks, including the rustic yet lovely Sequim Bay State Park, which is less than five miles from my home.
Because the entrance is right on Highway 101, it is easy to zip by Sequim Bay State Park without a second thought. I’ve done that hundreds of times. I’ve been in the park maybe twice since I moved to Sequim in 2010. My loss, unfortunately.
Recently, when returning from a day trip to Silverdale and with my two toy poodles in the car, I slowed down in time, pulled off the highway and entered the park. The dogs became excited, as well they should. Wonderful smells awaited them.
Sequim Bay State Park is heavily wooded. In the dampness of fall, the heavy growth has a feel similar to that of a rainforest. Because there are both deciduous and evergreen trees, park pathways this time of year are covered with yellow and orange leaves. While traffic from the highway can still be heard, the forest changes the sound, passing it around like an echo and yet lessening the volume and intensity. The beauty of the tall trees leads one to quickly forget about the highway and just look around, take a deep breath, and enjoy.
Olympic Discovery Trail
Running essentially east and west, the Olympic Discovery Trail dissects the park. A recently added wooden bridge spans a streambed many feet below the trail within the park. The Discovery Trail, when completed, will run from Port Townsend across the Peninsula to Forks and the Pacific Ocean. The section that cuts through our state park is open all the way through Sequim and on to Port Angeles. The asphalt-covered trail supports walkers, hikers, cyclists, strollers, wheelchairs, dogs on leashes, and anything that moves but doesn’t have an engine, so no motorcycles or autos.
Sequim Bay State Park does not look large from the entrance, but its ninety-two acres are filled with amenities. The park has sixty tent spaces that can accommodate RVs to thirty feet and sixteen utility spaces that can hold RVs to forty-five feet, There are three restrooms (one ADA) and three showers (two ADA). There are two loops of forested, dry, camping sites, some very near the water. (Some hookup sites were recently removed to make the remaining sites more spacious.) There are covered shelters, one with electricity, along with covered and uncovered picnic tables. There are benches and trails. A lighted underpass beneath the highway leads to ball fields and tennis courts on the south side of the 101. In the main park, I found swings and horseshoe pits.
Group campers can reserve space at two wooded group camps within walking distance of the shoreline. Also available is Ramblewood Environmental Learning Center, a rustic retreat center with a commercial kitchen and sleeping space for sixty people.
The park looks out on Sequim Bay with beautiful views from two shoreline paths, one with a boat launch and the second with a boat dock. The long dock accommodates several boats at a time, and the park is popular with fishing craft during designated fishing seasons; offshore moorage is also available. The park has 4,099 feet of saltwater coast on Sequim Bay, but coastal erosion has unfortunately eliminated access to some of the park’s beachfront areas.
As with all Washington state parks, Sequim Bay State Park requires the annual Discover Pass, which costs $30 when purchased at any state park. Various local businesses also sell the pass, for $35 plus sales tax. In Sequim, check Walmart and Brian’s Sporting Goods. The park is open throughout the year, 8 a.m. until dusk.
Note: Washington State annually offers a “free pass” day when the Discover Pass is not required. This year’s free pass day is November 24, 2017. That’s Black Friday, for shoppers, the day after Thanksgiving. So if you’d like to avoid all the crowds in the stores, take a break and visit the state parks, including Sequim Bay.
How to find the park
Sequim Bay State Park is located at 269035 Highway 101, Sequim, WA 98382. The phone number is (360) 683-4235. Campsite and group accommodations can be reserved online or by phoning (888) 226-7688. Some campsites are closed during winter months.
To visit, from downtown Sequim, take the Highway 101 headed east. In less than five minutes, you’ll find the main entrance to Sequim Bay State Park on your left. There are signs along the highway to help you and a left turn lane to make the turn safer. Enjoy! I’ll see you there!