Hikes: The Route Less Taken

Photo shows a lone person walking on a wild beach

“I want to hike somewhere long and challenging today, with great views.”

“How about Hoypus Point?”

(Dead silence.)

“So … what’s wrong with Hoypus Point?”

“Well, it’s flat, not very long, and paved the whole way. I was hoping for more of a real hike.”

“Ah, but what if we hike the beach?”

We headed to Cornet Bay and then began walking east on the beach below the road. Low tide had turned into a strong current flooding in through the Pass. We had a wide-open seashore ahead of us. This beach appeals to all my senses, especially on this sunny, warmish day.

There is the scent of the briny, muddy, lively edge of the sea, coupled with the tang of spruce and maple, tempered with a musty driftwood, sea lettuce, and detritus odor.

The sounds of eagles, herons, gulls, kingfishers, even a western grebe drifted over the water and forests, along with the white noise of the racing current, splashing waves, and light winds of autumn.

I could taste the salty air, sun-warmed skin, and a chocolate snack I brought as a treat. Okay, that last one doesn’t really count. Or does it?

The tactile sensation of slipping on slimy cobbles at the start gets your attention. The beach has little current in Cornet Bay, so the smallish rocks are slippery and slidy underfoot. Be careful. We held hands in places to help each other stay upright.

And the visuals. I won’t describe them. Hike the beach out to Hoypus Point!

Further on, the beach segues into small rocks coated with barnacles, sea lettuce and rockweed. Add to that an obstacle course of huge tree trunks extending from the uplands all the way to the tide line. These we had to climb over or duck under. It was a workout!

Nearing the point, the beach becomes soft and soothing grainy sand. We found a mom and son setting up hammocks between tree branches. A fisherman, framed by the bridge beyond, cast his line into the swift current.

At the renovated shoreline at Hoypus Point, we gave Murphy a treat and some water, and looked back over the beach we had hiked.

“So how do you feel about hiking Hoypus Point this way?”

“Okay, that was a real hike! And well worth it.”

Few people walk the mile-long beach to the point, but on this hike you can explore a rare northwest environment: an old-growth forest draping itself over a lively saltwater beach, critical habitat for forage fish and other wildlife. And you can get a workout too!

We walked the closed-off roadway back to Cornet Bay, passing dozens of hikers doing the same on this sunny Saturday. Monster trees rose above us. A heron landed on top of one right above us. Peek-a-boo views of the Pass poked through the entire way. Sunlight sparkled through golden maple leaves and off the churning blue water. The afternoon sun felt good. Smiles filled our faces.

It’s a good hike.


Directions: From Highway 20 at Cornet Bay Road, go east to the end of the road at the boat launch. Find an appropriate parking place (not easy to do when the fishing or crabbing seasons are open) then take the beach or the gated road. Valid parking pass required. Road may be open if parking fills the lot. To walk the beach, choose an appropriate tide; there is no beach at high tide.

By bus: Island Transit has a stop at the Highway 20/ Cornet Bay Road intersection.

By bike: Highway 20 is narrow, hilly, busy, and high speed. Cornet Bay Road is gentle, not as busy, a slower speed limit, but also limited shoulder.

Mobility: The beach requires agility, and all four limbs in a handful of places. The road is wide, gentle,  closed to vehicles except on the busiest of days, and mostly firm pavement, with great views.

Repubished from Hiking Close to Home. View original article.