When Gig Harbor Now’s very own Kitsap crackerjack, Mr. Ed Friedrich, in all his infinite wisdom as a tried and true local, says to you, “Yo, new girl*. You miss sand? Like, real sand? Because I’ve got just the place for you …”
You go, right?
Heck yeah, you do!
Soon, we headed north on Highway 16 to neighboring Kitsap County to scope out the rustic allure of Anderson Point Park at 8401 SE Millihanna Road in Olalla. This county park offers a (very steep) trail and trades a pokey pebble shoreline for the warm and fluffy sands of summer making it a Kitsap County hidden gem. There’s also a free parking lot there, some info signs and a trash can — but that’s it. No restrooms. or picnic tables (that I saw).
The beach access paired with spectacular views of Colvos Passage and Vashon Island are nice features. But (and it’s a major BUT), the walk from the beach back to your vehicle is LONG and ENTIRELY UPHILL.
(More on that last part in a bit).
Before we left, Ed told me:“There’s a wide trail that used to be a driveway down to the water. No swings, but incredible beach. Sand on one side of the point, gravel on the other. Great for hunting beach treasures. Big ships go by.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was officially sold on this Kitsap beach of dreams idea. Particularly the part where we could water socks for bare, tanned footsies dug deep in actual sand – a rarity around here. In fact, since Ed mentioned the wide trail to the water, I knew some walking was involved so we brought limited gear to avoid having to haul it far away from the conveniences of the car.
Marvelous mounds of sand
So, we went. You guys, the beach was everything Ed said it would be.
The mounds of sand were marvelous: tiny grains of a million rocks and shells were softly blown into little heaps and piles sloping toward the tide. Boats did, in fact, pass by in the distance. We arrived at the beach just before dusk during what photographers call the “golden hour” when the sun glows a warm, sleepy hue that magically pours soft light all around you. I don’t know if was that or me looking through the lenses of sandy-rose-colored glasses, but the little boats seemed especially dreamy as they quietly slipped by on their crisp triangle sails pulling them along in the breeze.
The kids were ecstatic. We brought sand toys and my cutie-patootie sibling pair giggled as they constructed moats and mini castles for a whole hour. Seriously, the beach there was such a treat. We haven’t seen sand this soft since we lived in California. I don’t understand the geological science behind it, but the slice of shoreline at this particular park has a makeup of textures usually reserved for lands that meet the open ocean. It’s as though Mother Nature replaced Washington State’s rustic overlay of broken rocks and shells – characteristic of almost every other glacier-carved inlet beach across the Puget Sound – and replaced it with a sprinkling of magical-dust sand at Anderson Point Park.
With no sharp or pebbly textures in sight, I slipped off my shoes and had a moment of true summer happiness as my toes sank through the layers of sifted warmth underfoot.
However, I must warn you, the soft pads of my feet eventually found a few tiny stickler balls near the coastal grass lines. So be watchful not to wander toooooo far inland during your barefoot beachcombing sesh.
The kids also, of course, enjoyed the water. Except, initially they weren’t entirely sold. Odd thing – the north side of the beach, which we hit up first, sported some stinky seaweed bundles wrapped up in the high tide debris. I don’t know if it’s an everyday thing, but a bunch of yellow jackets buzzed in and out of the tangles of mossy green kelp.
Seriously, those suckers were everywhere. We had to be extra mindful not to step on these ground-nesting insect foes – which made for some pretty nervous shrieks from me and two little kids I know. Always hopeful though, we pushed south until we found an arguably much nicer side of the beach where the driftwood shelters are expertly stacked and secret hideout-ready.
Treacherous uphill hell
Ha! You weren’t expecting a subhead like that, were you?
All of this to say, we were certainly impressed by this magical beach. Which is why I hate admitting … I don’t actually recommend bringing your kids here. I know! It’s terrible
How could I build up this beach only to topple all its kid-worthiness to the ground?! Well, here’s the reality: the trail there and back is absolutely brutal. First, it’s a switchback trail that spans roughly 3/4 a mile. The route from Anderson Point Park’s small dirt parking lot off to the beach is entirely downhill. Everybody talks about that part. We even packed light in anticipation of a long walk. But very few of the people who ventured there before us discerned that downhill one way means relentlessly uphill the other. I’m in decent shape for a 40-something mom. But holy freaking cow – the non-stop elevation on the walk back up to the car was so difficult I almost threw up — twice. I’m not even kidding. It was also “that time of the month” for me, which was quite unfortunate, but still.
So there’s that. Sad news and all.
(we won’t?) see ya out there!
IF YOU (STILL) GO
Address: Millihanna Road, Olalla WA 98359
Size: 66 Acres
Run by; Kitsap County, website
Features: Beach access, views of Colvos Passage and Vashon Island, free parking lot. Leashed doggos OK.
Hours: The park is accessible daily during daylight hours. Make sure to check the tide chart before you go!