Trip Report: Scenic Beach State Park

Take a look at this detailed trip report of Scenic Beach State Park to get a taste of the area's history and see an outline of all the park has to offer.
Regina Robinson Regina Robinson
Olympia Branch Communications Volunteer
December 08, 2020

Scenic Beach State Park is a childhood favorite of mine. My grandparents often tucked us grandkids into their car with giant hampers filled with food, plastic bags for collecting shellfish, and binoculars for spying wildlife, boats, and the Olympic Mountains. This little hidden gem is worthy of an excursion amidst its shady trees, offering majestic views of Hood Canal. Our picnic was held in regal dining hall filled with cedar and Douglas fir, fit for little wild kings and queens.

The quiet solitude, broken by sounds of laughter and the gentle lapping of the waves, makes this an ideal getaway for an overnight camping weekend or an afternoon picnic.

Scenic Beach State Park is located in the small town of Seabeck in Kitsap County. Chartered in 1841 by Charles Wilkes, Seabeck was notable for its wide, deep harbor. In 1858 a shrewd businessman by the name of Marshall Blinn established a sawmill, making Seabeck a world-renowned port with a major shipyard that built the largest sailing ships on the west coast, at the time turning out a million board feet each day. Tragedy struck in 1886 when a fire started in a ship docked at the mill. It destroyed the town and the two mills.

One remarkable landmark in Scenic Beach State Park is the Emel house, a beautiful craftsman home built in 1912. Peter Emel Sr. came to Seabeck from Canada via Seattle in 1886, building a home on a beautiful stretch of Kitsap shoreline. This house was partially demolished and rebuilt in 1921 by Peter’s son, Joe Emel Sr. The original builder used ballast from the canal for the rockwork and this can still be seen on the house today. The Emel family lived in the house and operated the Scenic Beach Resort until they sold it to the state in 1962 after Joe Emel passed away.

By 1973 funds were finally available for the development of a state park, but the state planning efforts included the demolition of the iconic Emel home. Sharon Barney and Elsa James, the park manager's wife, rallied the community to appeal the decision and saved the house. There is also a log cabin that stands behind the house; volunteers from the Mission Creek Youth Camp rebuilt the cabin in 1993.

Log Cabin.jpgThe log cabin originally build by Joseph E. Emel in 1936. Photo courtesy of Regina Robinson. 

Scenic Beach State Park opened in 1975. The park’s 88 acres include beach, marine, and forest woodland habitats. Come and explore or sit and eat a picnic lunch - whatever you chose to do, you will not regret taking time to visit this peaceful park!

 Hood Canal.jpgView of the Hood Canal looking towards Dabob Bay. Photo courtesy of Regina Robinson.
 

Activities

Exploring the beach

I suggest a beat-up pair of tennis shoes over sandals to traverse the 1500 feet of shoreline, due to the amount of shellfish on the beach. Their sharp edges do not make going barefoot a wise choice.

Bird watching

Bring your binoculars because hummingbirds, herons, hawks, owls, pheasants, woodpeckers, eagles, osprey, egrets, seagulls, and many others love this little slice of heaven! However, birds will not be the only wildlife you will be viewing. In the sound seals, whales, fish, and much more can be seen.

Boating

Go boating! If you have a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddle board, you can launch from the beach access point located just past the east side day use area within Scenic Beach State Park. If you’re using a boat with a motor, there is a boat ramp located 0.5 miles east of Scenic Beach State Park at the Seabeck Boat Launch, managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. A Discover Pass is required. Don’t forget your personal flotation device.

Camping

Scenic Beach State Park has 52 tent spaces, one dump station, potable water, two restrooms (both are ADA), and four showers. Eighteen sites are pull-through sites. Please be sure to Leave No Trace. Winter schedule: Sites 1- 24 are first-come, first-served; sites 26-50 are closed Sep 16-May 14; potable water can be found at the dump station; reservation season has been extended to November.

Emel House

The house’s lovely 1920s architectural beauty, wide lawns, and graceful gazebo overlooking Hood Canal with peek-a-boo views of the Olympic Mountains are stunning. This is a perfect gathering spot for a wedding or other small event.

Fishing

Fishing is quite popular here! Bring your pole and a comfy chair to take advantage of this hidden gem. Unfortunately mussel, oyster, and clam harvesting has been closed since 2010 due to a severe decline in shellfish populations.

Playground

Just in case your little tykes get tired of playing in the water, there are two playgrounds within the park. One is located near campsite 16, the other one is close to the east side day use area, right off the parking area. 

Picnic area

Several areas are available to spread out your picnic blanket. Choose a spot on the beach or at a picnic table, or check out the kitchen shelters if you’re cooking for a group event (reservations for the kitchen shelters are required).

Swimming

Swim at your own risk. There are no life guards, and the water is cold even in the summer time. If you are going in, I suggest bringing water shoes, an extra pair of clothes, a towel, and a mask and snorkel to view the marine ecosystem.

Flora/fauna

During the spring and early summer the rhododendrons are in bloom and they are magnificent. There is also a Douglas fir tree that is over 474 years old! If you do find it, give it a hug, and thank it for providing valuable habitat for the birds, deer, elk, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, and all the other animals that call the park home. In Hood Canal, seals, whales, salmon, starfish, and otters are just a few of the species that you might be able to see on any given day.

General Information

Park hours: Winter: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Pass: Discover Pass
Pets: Yes, but dogs must be leashed.

Location and Contact

Scenic Beach State Park
9565 Scenic Beach Road NW
Seabeck, Washington 98380
Phone: 360-830-5079
Reservations: 888-226-7688

Directions

Scenic Beach State Park is located about eight miles west of Silverdale on Hood Canal. To reach Scenic Beach State Park via SR 3, take the Newberry Hill Road/Seabeck exit (just south of Silverdale) and proceed north on Newberry Hill Road to Seabeck Highway NE. Turn right and travel through Seabeck to Miami Beach Road NE and turn right. Follow signs to Scenic Beach State Park.

Tree.jpgAt the base of a 474-year-old ancient tree with my Pops, giving thanks. Photo by Regina Robinson.

 Main Image of Hood Canal, looking across to Brinnon from Scenic Beach State Park. Photo by Regina Robinson.


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