Trail of the Week: Manchester State Park near Port Orchard

Explore Manchester State Park

Manchester State Park near Port Orchard offers an opportunity to explore some of the Puget Sound's military history. Read more at thenewstribune.com/outdoors.
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Manchester State Park near Port Orchard offers an opportunity to explore some of the Puget Sound's military history. Read more at thenewstribune.com/outdoors.

Manchester State Park

Hike description: Manchester State Park is surprisingly peaceful, considering its roots.

The park is on the site of Middle Point, a fort that guarded the Bremerton Naval Shipyard from potential enemy ships in the early 1900s (Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island also was tasked with this duty). There were never any attacks, but the 111-acre park still gives an interesting history lesson.

The large brick building that serves as a picnic shelter is the old Torpedo Storehouse. The building stored mines for an underwater minefield placed in Rich Passage. The strategy was for personnel in the nearby Mining Casement to monitor the arrival of any enemy ships then detonate the closest mine.

This area is a good place to start a hike at Manchester. Find the trail with the best views of Puget Sound by following the shoreline road east from the beach near the Torpedo Storehouse. The road becomes a trail at Battery Mitchell, an unfinished wartime remnant. The battery was supposed to have two large guns to help defend Rich Passage, but they were never installed.

From the battery, the trail traces the shoreline and delivers views of ferries and freighters making their way across Puget Sound. After a short distance, the trail climbs a flight of stairs and heads back inland. The inland trails can be linked to make your way back to the Torpedo Storehouse area or wander for a bit in the woods.

Another short hike option in the park is the interpretive trail near the park entrance. The 1/4-mile trail offers visitors a tour of big-leaf maples, red alders and hazelnut trees. The trailhead kiosk offers recommendations from the Washington State University Master Gardner Program for native plants to plant at home.

Directions: From state Route 16 in Port Orchard, take the Sedgewick Road exit and follow the road (also Route 160) east for 2.4 miles. Turn left on Long Lake Road and drive 1.8 miles to Woods Road. Turn right and continue 4.1 miles to Hilldale Road. Turn right and continue 0.8 miles to the park.

Difficulty rating: 2 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).

Miles round trip: There are 1.9 miles of trails in the park.

Elevation gain: 350 feet.

Best time of the year: Year-round.

Map: A map can be downloaded from the park website.

Pass: Discover Pass.

Also: The park is named for the nearby town of Manchester. The park was transferred from the Army to Navy, which during World War II used a portion of it as a fuel supply depot and firefighting station. It was acquired by the state in 1970. The park offers camping with 35 tent spaces and 15 utility sites. The maximum site length is 60 feet. The campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis Sept. 16-May 14. Reservations for May 15-Sept. 15 can be made up to nine months in advance. Manchester State Park is part of the Cascadia Marine Trail, a network of parks that can be used by Puget Sound paddlers. Dogs must be leashed or owners could be fined $87. There are several geocaches hidden in the park, according to geocaching.com.

Info: parks.wa.gov.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497