Illahee State Park Things to Do
The beach here is not huge, but it is at least a beach and is relatively quiet most of the time. There is a pier from which one can fish, as well as tie up a boat (fishers must yield space to those docking a boat on the pier!!!). Some of the beach is sand and some of it is gravel.
The tide fluctuation here is about 12 feet (slightly less than 4 meters), though it depends on the day.
There is a small boat ramp that is really best suited for hand carried craft, and really only works for vehicle and trailers at the extreme high tides. Know your tides before you get stuck!!!
There is a picnic shelter and area on the south end of the parking area for the beach, and at the south end of the beach a trail leads into the forest to access several pit toilets.
The beach to the north and south of the park is private land, and it is requested that people not wander onto these private beaches.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
In 1937, Illahee State Park was deemed to be worthy of public improvement money aimed at providing employment during the Great Depression. The structure that was constructed here was a picnic shelter - the first such structure at Illahee State Park.
Along with a few interpretive signs describing the works and working conditions of the Works Progress Administration (their wages were just enough to provide a living wage, but not well paying enough for people to want that type of work long term), the picnic structure has two features added at a later date: a cooking stand and an electrical outlet.
The shelter is large enough to cover approximately six picnic tables, and may be reserved.
The shelter is located about halfway between the main entrance to the park and the beach at the bottom of the hill. It is possible to see the water through the trees, but it does not offer any view of the surrounding countryside in months when trees are in leaf.Related to:
- Family Travel
There isn't too much in Illahee State Park in terms of hiking trails. The primary trail connects the campground area to the beach area. It is a dirt trail that wanders briefly through the thick forests that compose the primary ecosystem found in this park. While it isn't a long hike it does at least provide visitors with a view of what the temperate rain forests of western Washington look like. Older trees are riddled with woodpecker holes, and the chances of seeing small song birds, woodpeckers, and other small bird life is quite good. You must be patient, however, in order to stand a chance of seeing them. Also, the more quiet you are the better the chance they will not be scared away.
Bald eagles are common in the area, and it wound not be unusual to see one perched in the top of one of the trees, or even hiding halfway down it in the lower branches. The beach area affords them the chance to catch the fish they favor.
But, at the very least, enjoy the dense forest for the remnant of western Washington flora that it represents.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Illahee State Park Transportation
Driving to Illahee State Park from downtown Bremerton is fairly easy: head north out of downtown Bremerton and then east along one of the minor roads. North on highway 303 to NE Sylvan Way and then directly east works best, as the park main entrance is at NE Sylvan Way and Ridgeview Drive NE.
Please Note: If you drive to the park you are required to purchase a $10 day use pass for the park, or have an annual "Discovery Pass" for the Washington State Parks system.
Please note that there is almost nowhere to park on local neighborhood streets, so you can't use that method to avoid paying the fee. You are better off paying the fee or taking the bus.
Getting here by bus is not too difficult either, but does require careful attention to the timetables, and also requires that you walk beside roads that have no sidewalks or foot pathways. This isn't quite as bad as it may sound as many of the roads are not that difficult, and the speed limit is only 35 mph at most (not that anyone actually goes the speed limit, but speeds are a little lower here than on certain nearby roads where people go blasting along at 70 mph most of the time).
Kitsap Transit operates bus services in this area, and two routes get reasonably close to the park:
Bus route 29 operates from the transit center at the downtown Bremerton ferry terminal to East Bremerton, then north along Trenton Avenue. There is a bus stop at Trenton Avenue and NE Sylvan Way. From here, walk east (downhill) along NE Sylvan Way. At Bootleg Hill Place NE, you will notice a trail going into the woods on the north side of Sylvan. This trail is part of the park trail system, and goes into the park campground. From here, you can get anywhere in the park without walking on any roads other than those inside the park. The total distance along the road you have to walk is about 400 meters / 1,000 ft.
Bus route 21 also operates near the park, but the closest stop it offers is another 400 meters / 1,000 ft further, at Perry and Sylvan.
Service is infrequent: on weekdays each bus route operates only once every two hours, with one operating on the even hours and the other operating on the odd hours. Service on Saturdays is hourly on #21 and #29, but does not start until fairly late in the day. There is no transit service on Sundays.
The Kitsap Transit schedules and maps are on the web site, below.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Budget Travel
Illahee State Park Local Customs
When translating a word from one language to another, the problem is that the concept conveyed may be one that is foreign to that of the target language. One can find some small examples of this in European languages (for example, trying to convey the several different types of love from Greek or Portuguese into English, which only has the word love for all of those concepts).
However, this becomes a fairly severe problem when the two cultures involved have completely different concepts that are foreign to eachother.
Illahee in the Chinook trade language may mean "earth or land" or "where one is from". It may also be "place". The people who spoke the Chinook language did not separate the spiritual and physical worlds the same as those in the "western" culture do. As such, Illahee may also carry a meaning similar to that of what we call "Mother Earth" or "Mother Nature" along with its connotations of home or place.
A small sculpture sits nearly hidden along the road between the beach and the main entrance, slightly uphill from the picnic areas. This sculpture depicts Eagle or possibly Thunderbird, both of which have significance in local First Nations culture.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Illahee State Park Off The Beaten Path
As nearby Bremerton has a long history as a Navy shipyard, naturally there are any number of Navy heros that can be memorialized in their nearby state park.
At the entrance to the park there are two reasonably good sized anti-aircraft guns that are from one of the ships, and a small memorial picnic area by the guns.
The plaque is a generic statement "This memorial is dedicated in grateful recognition of the sacrifices made by the American People for the preservation of their heritage of justice and freedom."Related to:
- Historical Travel