Seattle’s scenic neighbour

Manchester State Park is one of the top parks in the county

by Doug Imberi

A short ferry ride from the city of Seattle is the serenity of Manchester State Park. This 111-acre park is covered in dense fir and maple trees alongside 3,400 feet of Puget Sound shoreline. Nature lovers will enjoy the views from the beach and a network of interconnected trails where you can also picnic. This little gem has been named the best park in Kitsap county for the last three years.

Near the little town of Port Orchard, this park was once a harbour defense installation for the port of Bremerton and served as a fuel supply depot and firefighting station during World War II. History buffs will enjoy visiting a brick picnic shelter that once served as a torpedo warehouse, and other sites on the National Historical Monuments register that are scattered throughout the park.

Make sure you take a walk along the trails that wind through the park a short distance from the campground. One of the trails is marked with interpretive signs that point out interesting foliage along with a brief narrative. This short and easy hike has 15 stops where you can learn about the different trees and vegetation you’ll find in the forest. If you are there in August you can help yourself to some of the blackberries that line many of the paths.

Easy living

The nice thing about these trails is that you don't have to be a hiker to enjoy them. There are no grades to access and they are relatively short.

“The total distance is only a few miles,” said park ranger Shawn Douty. “They also spur off each other so you can vary your hike as you see fit.”

The park is also part of a network of water campsites called the Cascadia Marine Trail. These campsites are for travellers arriving by canoe, kayak, beachable sailboats or row boats. The water trail runs from southern Puget Sound to the Canadian border and the campsites are located so your adventure can last hours or weeks.

Walking along the shoreline you can see the ferrys pass by as they carry people and their cars from Bremerton to Seattle and back. In the background is the quaint Bainbridge Island. While you can't see Seattle from the park, if you take the short drive into the town of Manchester; only a few miles away, you can see the Seattle skyline along with all the fishing boats as they test the water.

A camper's delight

The park also gets plenty of day use as visitors like to use the picnic facilities—both covered and out in the open. It is also a good point for scuba divers who like to harvest scallops and octopi from the waters.

There are 50 campsites for RVs or tents in the thickly wooded forest, however only 15 sites have water and electricity. This doesn't deter campers.

“We are usually full from the fourth of July through Labor Day,” said Douty. “I highly recommend that you make reservations in the summer.”

To make reservations call 888-226-7688 or go online to the park website. The park is open year-round, however, business really drops off in the fall and winter.

“Winter is usually pretty slow, but it all depends on the weather,” Douty said.

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