Even though it’s not quite spring, most of us have had enough of winter and are ready for an adventure. Good news: There’s an area not far from the Key Peninsula that offers just about any indulgence you want, whether it’s a short outdoor trek, wine tasting or the best in local food.
Hoodsport doesn’t get enough credit for its many merits. Most people think of it as a way station to Lake Cushman or Olympic National Park. This is the perfect time of year to pause and take a look around to discover Hoodsport’s hidden gems.
Start your adventure by traveling to Lilliwaup and the Hama Hama Oyster Co., the furthest point on your journey. Here, time slows down to follow the rhythm of the tide; if you visit during the week, you’ll see shucking and other activities in tandem with the sea’s clock. Pick up a brochure and take the self-guided tour of the facility. At the Oyster Saloon, taste the freshest, and arguably the best, oysters in raw or grilled form. In the company store, you can purchase local seafood to take home (the crab cakes are extremely tasty). There are also plenty of locally brewed beverages to accompany your purchases.
When you’re ready to leave Lilliwaup, head back to Hoodsport and discover some nice sipping at the town’s Hardware Distillery. It offers finely crafted products such as aquavit (based on pear vodka), the unique Bee’s Knees (distilled and aged mead from honey) and Crabby Ginny (cranberries, pears and grain). The distillery is open Thursday to Sunday in the winter, so check its schedule for current hours.
After imbibing, don’t hit the road yet—stroll up the street to the Hoodsport Coffee Co. Try its signature coffee or some of the best ice cream in the area. You’ll pass a few eclectic gift shops along the way, also worth exploring.
Now it’s time to work off those calories. There are plenty of good hiking trails in the area. The most popular, known as the Staircase area at Olympic National Park, is closed and not expected to reopen until late spring 2018, so you might try the easy-to-moderate Big Creek Trail, a 4-mile loop with the trailhead at the Big Creek Campground (SR 119 from Hoodsport to Forest Road 24). A National Forest Service trail pass is required.
Whether or not you take the hike, you’ll eventually head south on U.S. Highway 101. Just past Hoodsport’s commercial district you’ll find the Hoodsport Winery, open daily to offer travelers tastes of its cordials and varietal wines. If you’ve never tried rhubarb or blueberry wine, now’s the time! It’s also a beautiful place to enjoy the scenery.
Continuing south on Highway 101, don’t miss the picturesque Cushman Dam No. 2 facility near Potlatch. Built in 1930 to form Kokanee Lake, the structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. Still in operation today by Tacoma Public Utilities, it’s another great place to take a picture or two.
End your day with a stop at the Lucky Dog Casino in Skokomish. The casino’s smaller size appeals to those who just want to drop a coin or two in a machine. Who knows? You might win enough to pay for your road trip.
Rachel V. Berry lives in Port Orchard.
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