A Two Day Stay At Twin Harbors State Park
Exploring The Area of Westport, Washington
Quickly becoming a favorite part of the state to us, we took our third trip to the Westport, Washington area for two nights. Renting a cabin at Twin Harbors State Park as our temporary home base, we explored the town of Westport and two other nearby Washington State Parks over the weekend. Beaches to lighthouses to a colony of sea lions, we saw a lot!
Twin Harbors State Park
We previously visited Twin Harbors State Park on two other occasions, one of them being an overnight stay in one of the five cabins they have available. With the weather forecasted to be cold and rainy, and with fond memories from our previous stay, we decided to rent out the same cabin for this trip.
We arrived around 3:00PM with clear, sunny skies. So far the forecast was wrong, so we quickly unpacked and began hiking the Shifting Sands Trail which starts near the park entrance. There are signs along the trail which tell a short story of a Field Mouse who began a journey on this very trail. The further along you trek, the more you learn of the story. Continuing along this trail will lead you to the beach after ~½ mile. However, there are many other intersections and trails which continue south, through the woods.
We wandered whichever way we felt like going. There were a few large portions of the trail that were completely flooded, and we had to maneuver our way around these. After a short while, we arrived at the southern end of the park at the day use parking lot. From here we took the road out to the beach and began exploring the windy coast. Storm clouds could be seen in the distance, and a light rain had started. This must be the weather moving in that we expected. But the light rain lasted only a few minutes, and we were back to clearer skies.
We slowly combed the sands of the beach, our path arching further inland when the waters pushed too close. The receding waters revealed rocks and sand dollars and the stuff of the sea. Nearer the dunes, we found driftwood, bits of fishing tackle and floats that were once attached to nets or traps. In some places, there were massive tangles of driftwood containing trees and poles. We climbed over such a pile as we accessed a trail through the dunes leading back to camp.
Once through grass-covered dunes, we located a nearby trail leading east and took it, only to find it too flooded to continue that way. We backtracked, headed north more, found another eastern path, and the same thing happened. Repeat this two more times. We eventually made our way to the northernmost end of the park and took the road back in. All in all, we spent about 1.5 hours and 2 miles exploring.
Back at the cabin we made some food, looked through the photos we took and debated whether or not we should start a campfire. The sun would be setting within the hour, and the temperature was dropping so we decided to save the fire for the next day. We stayed cozy and read for the remainder of the evening until we fell asleep.
Westport Marina & Westport Light State Park
The next morning we started things off with a drink and snack at a nearby coffee shack then drove into the town of Westport. Last time we were here we saw a lot of sea lions sunbathing at the Westport Marina, so we thought we’d drop by and check it out again.
Sure enough, as we walked toward the end of Float 11, there must have been 30-50 of them out there again barking away at each other. The sea lions were tightly packed on this section of the pier. Noses pointed skyward, members of the colony jostled for space as the odd stray sea lion surfaced from beneath the water and attempted to squeeze itself into the existing mass of animals. The sea lions paid us little attention as we stayed our distance and admired them. The noise of their spirited barking echoed off the nearby sea wall and neighboring boats making quite the clamor.
Next, we drove out to the nearby observation platform and spotted a few more sea lions swimming just offshore. It was out here when we first noticed shelters scattered about for homeless cats. These stations serve as safe feeding shelters for the community of jetty cats that are residents of the area. While we did not see any cats at the jetty, we did see a dozen or so occupying the spaces in a high stack of pallets behind one of the businesses in this area.
So far the day had been cloudy and windy with off and on rain. This wasn’t going to stop us from our explorations which brought us to the Westport Viewing Tower next. The tower provides three levels, each with 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, Grays Harbor, and downtown Westport. We did the short climb to the highest level but didn’t last long with the high winds and cold temperatures. We did manage to spot yet another sea lion playing in the waves and we had a good view of our next destination in the distance.
We made the short drive into what was formerly known as Westhaven State Park but has since merged with the nearby Westport Light State Park and now goes by that name. We started off by beachcombing Half Moon Bay. Covered in shells and small gravel, this stretch of beach is a beachcombers dream. The jetty protects this portion of shoreline, so the waves are calmer here and deposit lots of shells on the beach.
After reaching the west side of the bay, we made a short climb up the sand dunes and began walking along the Westport Jetty. Here we had a beautiful view of the Pacific, nearby ships, and a handful of surfers braving the water. We climbed down the jetty’s boulders to the sandy beach of Point Chehalis. From all of our previous visits, we know one thing for sure—sand dollars are never in short supply on this beach.
We spent about 30 minutes here walking the beach. With each step, we spotted another sand dollar and charted our path in alignment with these ocean treasures. It was breezy and cold, but we were being graced with glimpses of sunshine and blue skies through the clouds. We stood and watched the surfers for several minutes as the waves on this side of the jetty are a lure for such activity.
With so much exploring already accomplished, we worked up an appetite. Our next stop is one we make during each visit, and that is Blackbeard’s Brewing Company. The pizza here is always good. We ordered enough so we’d have some leftovers for later in the evening. We also ordered some boneless wings and a couple of beers.
Grays Harbor Lighthouse & Westport Maritime Museum
After lunch, we drove just a few blocks down the road to Grays Harbor Lighthouse, also known as Westport Light. We took this tour back in 2013, so we were due to retake it. After paying the tour admission fee of $5 per person, we were told to start making our way up the stairs until we met the rest of the group and our tour guide.
As we climbed the stairs, we had the opportunity to learn the history of the structure through photos and informational text on the walls. We also took the time to take pictures. Once we reached the bottom portion of the light we teamed up with the rest of the group and our guide introduced himself and began telling us more history of the lighthouse and the light. We then made our way to the top of the tower where the full light and lens were on display.
We had a great all-around view of the area, and our guide explained more about the makings of the light and then provided answers to questions some of us had. The tour fees go toward restorations for the lighthouse, which will begin within the next year or so and will restore all the now covered windows among other things. We also learned of the pedestrian-only ferry service that will be back in action, after many dormant years carrying visitors to and from Ocean Shores.
Next up was the Maritime Museum back in downtown Westport. This museum houses quite an impressive collection of maritime memorabilia specific to the Westport area. From full skeletal remains of whales to glass floats and local heroes, there is a lot to take in here. There are 3 buildings for visitors to enjoy. The glass enclosures are outside, which house whale, sea lion, and other skeletal displays. The main building has a wealth of memorabilia, and the third building houses the one of a kind lens that used to be the guiding light of the Destruction Island Lighthouse. We did not know much about Destruction Island, so this was a nice bit of education.
After a full day of exploring, we headed back to our cabin. We cozied up around the fire ring and made a campfire that warmed us into the evening. A warm meal, conversation of the events of the day and a crackling fire were the perfect send-off into dreamland. Tomorrow we would journey home, but not before making one more stop along the way.
Bottle Beach State Park
The next morning we packed up, got coffee and light provisions and hit the road. Bottle Beach State Park was the last park we wanted to visit on this trip. We have visited Bottle Beach before, it was snowing the last time we were here. It was cold during this visit, but no snow and partly cloudy skies. This is a bird sanctuary featuring a trail through marshlands out to the shore.
The path consists of pavement, boardwalks and the last stretch being compacted soil. Along the route are interpretive signs, decorative carvings, and benches. When the tide is out, there is a decent stretch of beach that lays exposed.
Our intended explorations complete, it was time to journey home. We saw and did so much on this trip to Westport. We were incredibly lucky with the weather on this trip as the forecast was for more snow, but we encountered not a single snowflake. Trails and shoreline, marshlands and museums, wildlife and history, rounded out our adventures. As has been our sentiment every visit to Westport, we’re grateful for the new memories!
Helpful Links & Information
Grays Harbor Lighthouse: $5/person; see website for hours
Westport Maritime Museum: $5/adult, $3/child; see website for hours
Passes Needed: Discover Pass for state parks