Just a short drive from Gig Harbor exists Kopachuck State Park - a forested park on Henderson Bay with plenty of water access and some pretty cool nearby bays & islands to explore. There's lots of parking (Discover Pass required) but it's not that close to the water. If you've got hardshell kayaks, you'll have a little hike down the hill to the beach (I'd look at a map before you go). Luckily for us, our inflatable packs up nice and we made the short trip down the trail to the water.
While hiking down to the beach we stumbled upon a marine trail campsite. It was cool to see in person since we recently joined the Washington Water Trails Association. It's a pretty sweet deal - a minimal annual membership for discounted, members only aquatic campsites up and down the Puget Sound allowing paddlers a place to camp (that way you could complete some super long paddling trips).
We eventually made it down to the water and started paddling south towards Horsehead Bay. It's popular to go the other way towards nearby Cutts Island State Park (some of the locals call it Deadman's Island!) or Raft Island, but we've been there done that. Also, it was a busy summer weekend day and several power boats were WAHHHH-ING!!! around the islands (we only like power boats WAHHHH-ING when we're actually in them:).
Paddling into Horsehead takes you past a tempting sand spit…tempting because it seems to be private property…otherwise it would be a great place to stop for a snack. We paddled in and out, pretend shopping for our favorite beach house, and eventually drifted back to our launch site at the park.
Kopachuck is a nice day trip and it was cool to finally see a WWTA campsite. If you haven't paddled around here before it's definitely worth a visit. A circumnavigation of Raft Island (private/residential) is totally doable and exploring Cutts Island (beach and hike around) is fun too. You could do it all in one day pretty easily. If that day is a warm summer one you may not be alone!
There's lots of parking but not a whole lot of beach space - I'd choose a different beach if you planned to spend the day tanning (or, as tanning as Northwestern-ly possible:). However, word on the street is that at low tide a sandy beach appears…maybe there's tanning to do after all!
~Paul & Amber ETC
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