Itinerary #3: Swimming Holes Near Shelton, Washington
Editor's Note: The Big Rock at Lake Cushman has recently been shed in poor light due to irresponsible and careless visitors. We'd like to stress the importance of always practicing the principles of Leave No Trace while respecting all other adventurers and park personnel.
It’s summertime in the Olympic Peninsula! Sweet smelling lavender peppers the hillsides, Olympic Mountain Ice Cream drips down our wrists, and we toss what’s left of the unexpired sunscreen into our bags as we head out to tromp through the third of our monthly itineraries. Designed to highlight the best adventure, culinary and otherwise in Hood Canal, be sure to take a peek at our first and second itineraries to see where the path has taken us and read ahead to see where it’s going!
9 am | Downhome Dining
Known for slingin’ a mean eggs benedict under the best scratch hollandaise on this side of the Olympic Peninsula, the dynamic duo behind The Girls Cafe will fuel your adventurous fire in the most delectable of ways. Homemade, fresh, no-nonsense are the names of the game, and it’s hard to go wrong even if you don’t make it in for breakfast and end up catching the ruben for lunch. You’ll find this downhome gem just off of N. Lake Cushman Road, smack in your way from Hoodsport to Lake Cushman. After chatting up the friendly locals that will invariably be seated next to you, hop next door to Lake Cushman Grocery to grab a few picnic items before heading out.
11 am | One, Two, Three… JUMP!
Continue winding down N. Lake Cushman Road and you’ll behold one of Hood Canal’s most beautiful natural marvels: Lake Cushman. Beset with the proud Olympics, this summertime haven delivers the adventure goods for all explorers. Meandering around the lake to the northeast brings you to NF-24 and the local thrill aptly known as “The Big Rock.” This behemoth boulder settled on the side of the lake is one of the best-known cliff jumping spots in Washington, and it’s wonderfully accessible (directions here).
Arriving before lunchtime is in your favor, as it’s far from a secret spot, but it’s a perfect thrill and a great first way to dip into the lake. Remember: Cliff jumping is inherently dangerous and while we highly recommend it, it’s imperative that you scout before you jump and take note of any potential hazards. Be sure to have a NW Forest Pass hanging from your rearview mirror, as it’s required at most spots around the lake, not to mention at most spots in the National Forests of Washington. You can purchase dailies or an annual pass in Hoodsport here or here.
1 pm | Kick Back
After getting some adrenaline pumping through your veins, continue around the lake to the east side, finding the ideal place to plant your sun shade at Skokomish Park next to the Big Creek Inlet (directions here). This gently sloping beach is dedicated to swimmers and recreationalists. Rent a kayak or a SUP, bring a volleyball, slip on your water shoes (the shore is fairly exposed and can be rocky), and slather on the sunscreen all underneath the fantastic silhouette of Mount Washington to the north.
Another note on safety: an awareness of the fact that swimming in a lake is unlike swimming in a pool with a lifeguard is important to you and your little ones’ safety. The Red Cross outlines some precautions to take before jumping in here.
5 pm | Eat, Drink and Be Merry
For one of the most exceptional menus in the area, and an extensive, well-crafted wine list to boot, swing into Robin Hood Village Resort’s Restaurant to round off the evening in culinary bliss. Be sure to have a reservation, and come prepared to sample some of the best prepared local fare in Hood Canal. Start with the renowned Lemon Drop Prawns and wind your way through artfully prepared steaks, seafood and more all with an eye on the ultimate prize: local blackberry crisp with a scoop of Olympic Mountain vanilla ice cream.
With a belly full of good food and a brain’s-worth of memories of a day well spent, remember that we love to see what you’re up to in our neck of The Olympic National Park! Share with #hoodcanal #explorehoodcanal and #wildsideWA for a chance to be featured and keep up with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Happy adventuring!
Sunday – Thursday: 8 am to 3 pm
Friday & Saturday: 8 am to 7 pm
Monday – Sunday: 6am to 12am
Monday – Sunday: 4pm to 9 pm