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Get ready for outdoor activities in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula

Community Post Professional Headshot of Community Post April 25, 2018

Warmer weather and some sunshine have finally come to the Pacific Northwest! We're making plans now to make the most of our beautiful spring and summer days by getting outside. From a quiet picnic to a day on the trails, Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula have you covered!

Low Tide Beach Walks with Harbor Wild Watch

“They happen all summer long at the different public beaches and are awesome,” says Paige Schulte.

Hit the beach for one of these free 60- to 90-minute walks, and you’ll learn about the animals of the intertidal zone and brush up on your beach etiquette. Biologists and volunteer naturalists lead the way, and all ages are welcome. Dress for the weather and be ready to get your feet wet! You can find all the details for this summer’s beach walks on the events list of the Harbor Wild Watch Facebook page. See you on the beach!

Kopachuck State Park

This is one of Stacey Gendreau’s favorite summer destinations located near Henderson Bay in Puget Sound.

“We love going to Kopachuck State Park,” says Stacey. And it’s no wonder! “It has a very long shoreline, and it’s a great spot to take your pup and a picnic, then watch the sunset as it drops behind the Olympic Mountains!”

There’s something for everyone here, from saltwater fishing and low-key relaxation to shellfish harvesting and paddling. Wade into the water at the beach or bring your boat or kayak and make the trip out to mysterious Cutts Island. (You’ll only get there by boat!) Up for a little hiking? The park has 2 miles of shaded trails.

Gig Harbor Gondola

Looking for quiet, romantic evening on the water with a little European flair? Kristin Niebergall has just the outing for you!

“One of the most fun things I have done with my husband is a romantic Gondola ride through the Harbor,” Kristin shares.

Gondolier John Synco had his authentic gondola, “Nelly,” shipped from Venice, Italy, and his is the only Venetian gondola operation in the Pacific Northwest.

“John Synco is charming, the boat is beautiful and ornate, and a delicious appetizer is provided,” Kristin says. “You can bring your own wine or prosecco and, who knows? John may just serenade you!”

Fancy more of a crowd? Nelly does seat 6 people, so you can always share this unique experience with friends!

Cushman Trail

Sheryll Tan and Kirk Lent both recommend biking or walking around the paved, 16-foot wide Cushman Trail as an alternative to some of the more adventurous options in our region. It extends from close to the Narrows Bridge to the north end of Gig Harbor.

“If you’re afraid of biking along with other motorists, Cushman Trail is a safer option, especially with little ones,” she says. “It is a paved trail that goes around the Harbor (from the Narrows Bridge up to North Gig Harbor).”

Sheryll recommends taking advantage of the benches provided at different mileposts to stop for a breather or have a bite to eat. Other conveniences are the 5 restrooms you’ll find along the 6.2-mile trail and lots of onsite parking locations. Some stops even have drinking fountains and picnic tables. The grade varies over the course of the trail, and you can see a bird’s eye view on the trail map.

Paddle boarding in Gig Harbor

Paddle boarding in Gig Harbor wins recommendations from Morgan Mullin and Krista Osborne.

“The actual harbor of Gig Harbor has amazing kayaking and paddle boarding opportunities with rentals right there if you just want to pop by and get on the water,” says Krista. “On both sides of the Purdy bridge, as well as throughout parks on Key Peninsula, there are launch spots for both kayak and paddle boards with easy sojourns or when it is more windy—fun for the white cap adventurer.”

Lee's SUP & Kayak Sales/Rentals has a fleet of more than 50 kayaks, double kayaks and paddle boards available to rent. Gig Harbor Water Sports rents a variety of kayaks and paddleboards, and even offers the option of online booking.

Allyn House Inn & Kayak Rentals

If you’re up for heading out a little further, you’ll find another one of Krista’s favorites.

“In Allyn, there is a kayak/paddleboard rental place and easy launch right on the beach,” says Krista, “not to mention an ice cream shop and Big Bubba's Burgers or 2 Margaritas Mexican food that knocks your socks off within arm's reach right after a good paddle!”

Still back there thinking about that ice cream shop? You’ll want to head to Kayaks and Kones where you can order up a treat made with your favorite of 28 flavors of Olympic Mountain Ice Cream.

Turn your outing into a quick getaway close to home and book the Allen House Inn’s 2-bedroom apartment, or book it for your out-of-town guests looking for a unique stay close by.

Shellfish harvesting near the Purdy Split

“These are fun activities even little ones get so excited about!” Sheryll says. “The best part of it is cooking/baking them and enjoying them with family and friends,”

The best time to go clam digging and shell fishing for oysters and mussels is in April, according to Sheryll.

For clam digging and oyster and mussels shell fishing, she suggests a trip to Penrose Point State Park any time from March through late April.

“We also went geoduck clam digging here, and the best time would be mid-April to mid-August,” she shares. “Make sure to check the tide charts (usually available at sporting goods store) to find the day and time for low tide since most geoduck are only exposed during low tides.

Penrose Point is also a great spot for hiking, biking and camping, and you can even spend the night on your boat at overnight mooring buoy.

Sheryll’s pro tip: Remember to get your fishing/clamming permits before starting any of these activities. (You can get them at Big 5 Sporting Goods for less than $20 for the whole day.)

Disc Golf at Volunteer Park

If hunting, fishing and kayaking aren’t at the top of your list, how about some disc golf? Maggie Schauble recommends the 9-hole disc golf course at Volunteer Park. KeyPen Parks even provides a handy course map that includes the rules of the game just in case you’re new to the sport. You don’t even need to invest in any equipment to play a round here! With a $10 refundable deposit, you can check out a disc at the park office.

Bonus Activity: Volunteer Park also has its own skate park open from 8 a.m. to sunset! The facility is open to skaters of all levels. Just remember to bring your skateboard and safety gear and follow the skate park rules.

Golf Courses

For golf, Kirk recommends Madrona Links Golf Course, located close to the Narrows Bridge & Hwy. 16, and Horseshoe Lake Golf Course on the Key Peninsula.

“Both offer reasonably priced golf with well-manicured greens and fairways along with well-stocked pro shops and a restaurant,” Kirk says.

Visit the course websites for information about booking tee times, green fees, memberships, lessons and even disc golf (at Horseshoe Lake).

Parks Galore with PenMet Parks

“In Gig Harbor PenMet Parks manages 9 parks including Sehmel Homestead Park with sports fields, a playground and walking trails,” says Kirk. There are plenty of ‘dogs on leash’ parks including, Tubby’s Trail Dog Park, Hales Pass Park and Rotary Bark Park (which also has 15 acres of off-leash park area).”

Kirk says the parks for exploring trails are Harbor Family Park, Rosedale Park and McCormick Forest Park. If you’re looking for fishing opportunities Kirk recommends Narrows Park (which is situated below the Narrows Bridge), the Fox Island Pier and Sunrise Beach Park.

Bonus Park: On the Key Peninsula, Kirk recommends KeyPen Parks’ 360 Trails near Gateway Park for its endless mountain biking opportunities and walking trails. This 360-acres property offers trails accessible to walkers, equestrians and mountain bikers. You can see all the options here on their printer-friendly trail map.

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