Explore Hood Canal And Mason County


By Amy Rowley

hood canalI grew up here, in this little corner of the globe.  I spent my summers at my family’s cabin along the shores of Hood Canal.  Along with my siblings and cousins, we captured crabs under rocks, dug buckets of clams, and searched for unique pieces of beach glass.

More often, families are looking for ways to reconnect with nature and have meaningful experiences with their children, unplugged and away from distractions.  The quiet, serene landscape is the ideal location for a weekend getaway or a sunny day trip.

Follow State Route 101 to Mason County, the gateway to the Olympia Peninsula.  Access ocean beaches, Hood Canal, and Olympic National Park.  Shelton anchors the county as the largest town.  A twenty-minute highway drives takes you from central Shelton to West Olympia.

Break away from a busy schedule and enter Mason County.

Let me try to capture the magic of Mason County.  Perhaps, it’s Heidi McCutcheon, lifelong resident, who can best describe it.  “Helping a child catch a fish and then cooking it for dinner – that’s a memory that will stay with him for a lifetime,” she says.

Or, maybe Rachel Hansen’s comment will better resonate with you.  “We moved to Mason County for the quality of life.  We can still do things here that we used to do as kids.  Imagine going down to the beach, collecting oysters and clams for dinner because you are too lazy to go to the grocery store for hamburger,” says Hansen with a contagious smile.

hood canalAs most parents know, the best laid plans and organized trips never compare to the accidents and adventures that happen along the way.

Here is just a snapshot of some of the organized fun (or spontaneous adventure) that your family can experience (or stumble upon) while visiting Mason County.

  • Chat with a volunteer in Hoodsport to find a hike in the Olympic National Park that’s suitable for your family.
  • Visit the beach at Potlatch State Park.
  • Enjoy a scoop of Olympic Mountain Ice Cream in Hoodsport.
  • Rent a boat at Lake Cushman. Stay in a cabin along the lake or pitch a tent.
  • Stand on or drive across the High Steel Bridge, 385-feet above ground.  Watch little ones since the bridge only has a short railing.
  • Swim, boat, kayak, waterski, scuba, or fish in Hood Canal.
  • Walk the 2.3 mile trail at Twanoh State Park.
  • Build a campfire and roast marshmallows.
  • hood canalTake in a drive-in movie.
  • Explore the mudflats at low tide along Hood Canal.  Gather oysters, clams and mussels for dinner.

This summer, my daughter will take her inaugural hike up Mt. Ellinor.  And, I can’t wait to see her smile when she finds a piece of lavender beach glass or her laugh when she catapults from the rope swing into the grass.  I’ll be there to experience these memories with her.

To learn more about exploring Hood Canal and Mason County, click here.

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