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Thursday, June 24, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Walkabout: Kayak Point Regional Park

By Cathy McDonald
Special to The Seattle Times

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Location: Stanwood.

Length: Several miles of trails.

Level of difficulty: Paved road and flat-to-steep dirt/gravel trails with stairways (can be muddy after rains).

Setting: With 3,300 feet of shoreline on Port Susan, an inlet of Puget Sound that separates Camano Island from the mainland, this popular park's focus obviously is the water. The sand-and-cobble beach warms up the shallows during hot days, and it's a fine place to watch a sunset. Fishing and crabbing off the 300-foot pier are popular pastimes; according to the park brochure, anglers can catch flounder, sole, true cod, rockfish and walleye pollock.

Birdwatchers have shorebirds and waterfowl at the beach, eagles fishing the inlet, and forest-dwelling birds flitting along the hillside trails that lead down to the water. Keep an eye out for seals and sea lions, and you might spy a gray whale lingering in the area (they usually visit during spring/early summer).

Highlights: People have had grand plans for this piece of beachfront property throughout the years. C.D. Hillman, a Seattle land developer, gambled that the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition would attract prospective settlers. He purchased 10,000 acres, built three docks and a boardwalk along the shore, and brought sightseers up from Seattle on sternwheelers. For $75, a person could buy a five-acre parcel in the new town of Birmingham (later renamed Warm Beach). A private resort was later built. An oil refinery almost was constructed in the late 1960s, but voters nixed the project, and 640 acres were sold to the county by Atlantic Richfield to create the park.

Facilities: Restrooms, water, phone, boat launch, campground (includes a three-bedroom cottage and a yurt village, sturdy tent cabins with bunks, electricity and heat), and 300-foot-long pier for fishing and crabbing. Day-use parking fee of $5.

Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect; bikes on paved surfaces only.

Directions: From Interstate 5 (northbound or southbound), take Exit 199 at Marysville and turn west on Fourth Street, which becomes Marine Drive. Follow the road for 13 miles, and the park entrance is on your left.

More details: Visit www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Parks or call 360-652-7992. For campground reservations, call 425-388-6601.

Cathy McDonald is coauthor with Stephen Whitney of "Nature Walks In and Around Seattle" (The Mountaineers, 1997).

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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