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Hood Canal in Washington

Trip Overview

The end of the Hood Canal has a designated wildlife sanctuary where the Union River flows into the tidelands. We live on the South Shore of the Canal and thought a little trip to the Union River would be fun.

We launched from Belfair State Park, ($5 fee to park, easy walk to gravel beach), and headed east. It was close to high tide when we started so there was plenty of depth over the muddy tidelands. We got a good look at the homes along the shore and lots of Blue Herons standing on the grassy shore. We paddled through some marshy areas along the highway, looking for the Union River. As we got close to the Wetlands (Theler Center) we saw the hikers along the scenic walkway. Old pilings mark the spots where logs were tied up from early logging. After numerous dead-ends, we found the Union River mouth.

Seals always pop up to watch us when we go kayaking on the Canal...tagging along sometimes with curiosity. Two seals alternated watching at a distance of 30 feet. We traveled up the Union River to the Wetlands Bridge. Looking down into the river I was surprised to see a 3-4 foot long Green Sturgeon pacing my kayak! I thought it was a Dogshark at first glance. A baby seal was sleeping on the bank on the way back and he got a little startled when we cruised by.

It was getting later and we scooted back since they lock the park gates at dusk. Good Fun! A little strenuous in our recreational kayaks (a Pungo & Manitou Sport) with the tide, but a nice 9 mile, 3 1/2 to 4 hour trip.


Belfair State Park has camping, picnic areas, restrooms etc...


$5.00 day parking.


From Bremerton, West on Highway 3 to Belfair, take the North Shore Road to Tahuya and Belfair State Park.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip