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For more information, see this CNN video clip or read Watertrail: The Hidden Path Through Puget Sound by Joel W. Rogers.

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Anacortes to Orcas Island
Crescent Bay - Surf Kayaking
Hope Island to Saxon Island
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San Juan Island to Stuart Island
Squaxin Island

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Travel Article
Kayaking Hope Island Kayak Loop

Boston Harbor offers kayak rentals just a few miles north of Olympia, the state capital. Our group of four rented two single kayaks and a double, leaving the harbor at noon on Tuesday.

The thin, morning fog lifted to reveal miles of placid water and few other watercraft.

As the sun came out, so did a curious harbor seal, cormorants and seagulls. In fact the seal followed us for most of the 90 minute paddle.

After getting oriented to our new mode of transportation, we took the cautious route to Hope Island -- west across Budd Inlet, north to Cooper Point, northeast across Eld Inlet to Hunter Point, then north to Hope Island.

Although the direct route north to Hope Island from Boston Harbor is a fairly straight 3 miles, our route avoids the open water and tide rips, only adding an extra mile.

As we approached Hope Island, a large group of children greeted us with enthusiastic singing and cheering. Since we were looking for a more relaxing stay, we headed to the far shore on the east side of the island. Shortly after beaching, we counted seven canoes as the children left the island for the mainland.

A boardwalk from the beach led past a small pond and became a nicely maintained trail. Continuing on, we passed a few campsites, a clean pit toilet, a bridge, interpretive signs, a reconstructed windmill and caretaker's cabin, and a registration area. The Washington Water Trails campsite was just north of this area, allowing for easy access to a small patch of beach for landing.

*Note: Camp only in designated areas. Be sure to register and pay the camp fee.

A short hike around the island's loop trail led past squirrels, woodpeckers, ancient cedars, and forgotten orchards. A few boaters had anchored offshore for the night.

We moved to an appropriate site, pitched our tents and settled in for a Mexican dinner of chicken fajitas with fresh summer squash, red onions, peppers, and mushrooms.

At sunset, we took a short 45-minute paddle around the island to explore the shore of Steamboat Island, a very tiny home to a handful of houses perched atop its steep cliffs.

After a nice 10-hour sleep, we had a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal and returned to the water at noon for a paddle to the north end of Squaxin Island, through Peale Passage and on to Boston Harbor.

*Note: Crossing open water is risky. As always, make sure you are wearing a USCG approved life vest (PFD) and are experienced with self-rescue techniques..

The currents were in our favor as the tide was highest just as we rounded Salmon Point. The ebb tide and our own paddling took us along the east shore of Squaxin Island 3.5 miles to Tucksel Point.

As we faced the crossing to Boston Harbor, we hesitated. The winds were delivering white-capped chop from the west. Keeping these waves from hitting us broadside would be our challenge for the next two miles.

An hour of fighting salty chestfuls of water brought us back to Boston harbor. Sure we were tired, but after two days of peaceful exploration in one of the most ideal kayaking trails imaginable, we could not help but smile. Of course, we were also pretty excited about the twelve pound king salmon we picked up at the marina (for a good price). There is nothing like fresh, grilled salmon steaks to enjoy while reminiscing over two days well spent.

(c) Brian High

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