It is doable to reach this trailhead by foot, from the ferry dock in Port Townsend, Washington – on the Quimper Peninsula, meaning one can walk on from the Coupeville ferry dock on Whidbey Island and do it without a car. The walk from the ferry dock and back is the same length as the trail section we did, so it is a good walk. But it is a lot cheaper than taking a car, and no reservations are needed, should you walk on. The trail is open to bicycles and strollers as well.
It also was the first day of school for the school district we live in. So we took our first field trip of the school year. I am homeschooling them once again. Just done with our school district, where 35% passing math is celebrated as a good thing (I wish I was joking, I am not – this was uttered by the president of the school board last year). The pandemic left me an angry parent, and willing to take on the education of our children. This is year 3 for the youngest and the older one, after a year back in public school asked to be homeschooled once again.
And that is the thing: They can learn so much on these “field trips”. See that marine wildlife board next to them? They’d tell you it is wrong. And they are right. Orcas are not whales. Yet, the myth persists. They are in the Dolphin clan.
Soon the cooler temps of fall will wind in, and the trips will become more, till winter comes. So we celebrated first day of our freedom school by learning about history, nature and even fauna. And I’d say that was a far better day than sitting quietly in a building.
To find the trailhead on foot:
Walk off the ferry. At the end of the ferry dock, cross over and walk along Hwy 20 on sidewalk, along the water. This is also known as Water Street. The walk is quick and crosses a side junction of Water St (where Hwy 20 becomes also Sims Way). Keep walking and cross a side road. Keep walking on what is now Washington. It is a quiet road in general, with lots of industry and smaller restaurants. It is haphazardly in sidewalks, but is safe to walk the edge of the road as the car load is light. 4 or so blocks later come to Benedict St, and bend right on to it. Next road up is Jefferson. Take a left onto it. Pass the Safeway fuel station, which has a C-store should you need drinks, snacks or bathrooms.
Jefferson winds around and dumps into the parking area for the marina. Look for the road to your right, that continues. This unmarked “road” is Washington once again. Just follow it through the marina, dodging cars and dock workers.
You will know you are there when the road seems to end into dry dock area, and you see this building:
That is the inglorious start of the ODT – the Olympic Discovery Trail, the Larry Scott Memorial Trail, and yes, where the PNT – Pacific Northwest Trail – picks up. At shack 16. It’s about 1.10 miles from the ferry dock to the trailhead.
Oh, you want to drive there? Yeah, yeah….here is the directions.
This first section follows Port Townsend Bay. It’s a busy trail but so worth it.
The end of safe trail is 7.3 miles down the trail. That is the huge gap in the ODT, where if one wants to walk the whole ODT, or PNT, they must do some very bad road walking on a narrow road.
The views though, are of Marrowstone and Indian Island (the latter being Navy property). The blue crane is part of the Naval Magazine port. The bridge from the mainland is visible across the water.
As the trail starts out it is narrow, but quickly opens up to car width. The tread is smooth and easy to walk on.
The trail is just above the beach and below the cliff above.
A bit in pass a sculpture, Leafwing.
Near it is a corral for horses. Horses are only allowed this far on the trail (coming from the other side). If one wanted to walk into town, they’d have to tie up their horse. This sign was neat though, showcasing all the flowers, from native to invasive.
The Larry Scott Memorial Trail is named after Larry Scott, who was one of the reasons the ODT exists now. I remember over 20 years ago when most of the ODT was just a pipe dream of hopes. Much of it has been built now.
Looking across the bay.
This section of the trail follows the bay until you reach the paper mill.
Looking back at old Port Townsend, with the water area and Uptown as well, and in the far distance Fort Worden State Park.
The blackberries were ripe along the way, the boys were happily stopping to eat.
At 1 mile come above the paper mill. We stopped here for a break. At the top is a bench and a garbage can. Beyond this the trail leaves the water, and eventually goes into the forest. It makes a great turn around spot.
The paper mill has been in production since 1920. It uses recycled cardboard and waste wood products – it doesn’t use new trees.
The hike back goes quickly, as you suddenly notice that you are actually dropping elevation, ever so slowly.
As we reached the information kiosk we noticed a hawk.
If I ID’ed it, it is a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. Their eyes turn darker as the mature, this has the pale eyes of a young one.
So, so soft looking. While hawks terrorize my chickens often at home, I cannot help but to love seeing them in the wild. They are simply majestic birds.
On the way back to the trailhead we passed multiple Herons as well, who were enjoying their time in the bay, looking for lunch.
Parking is free. Trail is free to use. Dog friendly, but keep on leash…..for a good reason – No motorized vehicles….but watch out for all the EV bikes going far too fast (which somehow are OK on non-motorized trails?). We were passed multiple times with no warning call out of “on your left”. Oddly, the traditional bike riders were super polite and had old school bells to ring (I love those). So if you have a dog, keep it close to you for that reason.
Lots of park benches to rest on, garbage cans often and even picnic tables along the way. It’s a relaxed trail and a lovely one on a warm morning.