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Kayak Point County Park - February 2006

By Holly Zox

Kayak Point is a good place to ponder deposits and withdrawals: what water, ice, and wind delivered or carried away, who came, who stayed, who’s just passing through. Located on Port Susan across from Camano Island, the park was once the site of a resort, and almost an oil refinery before becoming a Snohomish County Park. The walk includes a disturbed old growth forest fragment on an eroding bluff and the cobble, gravel, and sand beach below.

The first deposits encountered on entering the park, the glacial drift of the bluff and the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) – grand fir (Abies grandis) forest it supports are soon overshadowed by a distressing understory of English ivy (Hedera helix). Salal (Gaultheria shallon), which would be expected to form a large part of the understory is almost completely replaced by the exotic ivy. Drive through the self-service pay station ($5.00 day use fee) and park by the beach. Several staircases lead up into the forest. Start with the northernmost stairs under a large grand fir and note several shrubs of spurge laurel (Daphne laureola), an exotic that has seriously invaded Vancouver Island’s East Sooke Park. The large grand firs are dwarfed by the really big, older fire-scarred Douglas-firs. The relatively shade-tolerant grand firs that came in after the fire could become the climax tree species. Young grand firs, indeed any young trees, are few however, and the carpet of ivy limits the chances for new seedlings.

After walking up and down all stairs to the south end of the park, step over a drift line of dead trees, some washed up from Puget Sound during storms, some falling down from the bluff during storms. Walk south under the bluff as far as the houses, or farther if tides allow. The bluff is composed of layers of glacial till, sand, and clay. The layers reflect the varied history of the site and frequently slide to feed the beach below. Note groundwater seeping out of the water-holding clay. Oregon crabapple (Malus fusca) grows at the base of the bluff.

Retrace your steps, and walk the beach north, rounding a small point. The beach is wider at this more sheltered, north-facing portion. The native beach or strand vegetation is unfortunately mostly replaced by the lawn of the park. Scattered clumps of dunegrass (Elymus mollis) and Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana) can be found.

Past the fishing pier, shellfish beds occur. Focus your binoculars and look for the many critters feeding over them including common loons Gavia immer) and western grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis). The waters offshore are quite deep, and offer the chance to view passing orca whales (Orcinus orca).

Bring a picnic and binoculars for this easy 1 mile or more walk. If all that ivy threatens to upset your picnic, the dynamic nature of the site could offer some relief: all of this will be part of some future geologic layer. Directions: take exit 199 from I-5 at Marysville and turn left onto Marine Drive, then follow signs 13 miles north to the park entrance.


Updated: July 3, 2016
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