Saltwater State Park
Hike description: A short walk in Saltwater State Park can be packed with variety.
Walk along the park’s small Puget Sound beach. Wander the path through the lush green woods. Practice your knowledge of local trees on a short loop near the park entrance.
We visited recently on a rainy weekend and followed a route that included all of the above. We started by visiting the beach and enjoyed a view that stretched back to Dash Point and Point Defiance.
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We picked up the well-signed Rim Trail from the parking lot. The path can be slippery on rainy days, but slick sections are easily navigated. On two occasions, the trail passes under the Marine View Drive bridge. If you hike the trail counterclockwise, your first pass under the bridge will be high and your second will be far below. Both spots make interesting photo opportunities.
A short wooden bridge passes over a green drainage that runs to McSorley Creek. The South Rim Trail ends at the park’s campground, where the North Rim Trail begins. Signs point the way to connect the trails and finish the loop.
After the Rim Trail returned us to our starting location, we followed the sidewalk a short (but steep) distance up Saltwater Park Road. Near the top of the hill, adjacent to the park’s entrance station, is a short interpretive trail. Douglas firs, Western red cedars, Pacific madrones, black cottonwoods and maples are a few of the trees marked with signs along this path.
A picnic table (one of 147 in the park) next to a tall rock fireplace makes an ideal spot for lunch. After completing the loop, return to the parking lot via the sidewalk.
Directions: From Interstate 5 in Kent, take Exit 147 and drive west for about a mile on 272nd Street. Turn right on 16th Avenue and after 1.1 miles turn left on 14th Place. Continue on the road as it becomes 258th Street and then turn right on Marine View Drive. After crossing the bridge over the park, turn left on 252nd Street. Turn left, and the park entrance will be on the left. Find parking at the bottom of the hill.
Difficulty rating: 2 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 2.7.
Elevation gain: 250 feet.
Best time of the year: Year-round.
Map: A map can be downloaded on the park website.
Pass: Discover Pass. There is an automated pay station at the park.
Also: This is one of the most popular state parks, with restrooms and a 40-site campground. Dogs on leashes are permitted but must be cleaned up after. There are geocaches in the park, according to geocaching.com.