~Hood Canal Adventure: Chapter 1-Lake Kokanee
~Dipping my paddling into a fresh water lake in the state of Washington was unexpected and a true pleasure. When I first planned this trip to the Hood Canal over two years ago, my original thought was to paddle on Lake Cushman. However, I quickly learned to trust the locals, when it comes to paddling. And, BOY!!, I’m sure glad I did. I mean, just look at the flat water and beautiful shoreline of Lake Kokanee.
A quick stop at the Chamber of Commerce in the little town of Belfair, to purchase our Washington’s Annual Discovery Park Pass (Cost was $35, is good for 12 months and you can have 2 license plate #s noted), and it was suggested we paddle here rather than on Lake Cushman this time of the year (July). So, after a quick (3 hour drive) recon, it was decided this would be the group’s first paddle. There were 15 paddlers who came along for the journey.
See the snow on the Olympic Mountains in the background?
Lake Kokanee is a private lake and there is only one place the public can access the water. Once on the water, you cannot exit, until you get back to the take-out. Directions noted at the end of this blog.
These three ladies were enjoying a cool morning as we started out.
When you look at Lake Kokanee on the map, it looks rather small. However, we paddled for about 2.5 hours along the shoreline, past waterfalls, and a few fisherman in search of land locked salmon.
Capturing a shot of this pretty King Fisher was a surprise. Usually they fly away to quickly to get a good shot.
Our entire paddle greeted us with perfectly flat water and blue skies. The water was crystal clear and the color changed from aqua to green to blue.
The moss hung from the trees along the shore like lace.
This Osprey was perched in a nearby tree waiting for his lunch to swim by.
Lake Kokanee sits below Lake Cushman and both were man made to generate electricity. The shoreline is steep in most places and we noticed several land slides with caution signs telling us to stay back at least 100 yards. However, I’m doubtful the width of the lake in some spots was more than 50 yards.
The views were breathtaking from every vantage point.
One final shot of an Osprey perched high at the top of a tree as I walked by on my way to eat lunch at the park. We were lucky to befriend the security guard who gave us permission to sit in their ‘private’ park for lunch.
If you’re in the area during the busy season, I highly recommend paddling this little lake rather than busy Lake Cushman. The speed limit is 7mph and if you arrive early, you’re sure to get a parking spot right by the gravel launch.
To get here: Going North on 101, along the Hood Canal, you’ll make a left turn an follow highway 119 West at the little town of Hoodsport. Follow this for about 2 miles until you come to a grocery store on the right and look for Lower Lake Road on your left. Follow Lower Lake road down and down until you come to a large parking lot on your left. This is a public launch and there are no fees to park or launch. There is a pit toilet. The locals we first talked to told us we couldn’t launch here. We later learned this wasn’t true. The park next to the public launch is private. There is a fish hatchery across the road, but I’m not certain if it’s open to the public.