Useless Bay Tidelands

OutAndBack • 4 mi • 0 ft

Useless Bay is a true oddity; the only hike in this book without any semblance of a trail. Instead, the bay provides a few miles of wild saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound for free wandering and discovery. An out-and-back trip on the beach to Double Bluff makes a good 4-mile round-trip hike, but many visitors will find the plentiful and welcome distractions along the way to be worthwhile destinations in and of themselves. Useless Bay joins Point No Point, Deception Pass, and Cape Disappointment in a long list of colorful geographic place names given to locations on the rugged coast of the Pacific Northwest; the terms were typically assigned by early seafaring explorers who had trouble navigating the region’s notoriously hazardous currents and stormy seas. For land-based visitors to these spectacular settings, however, there is little connection to the sailors’ troubles–and Useless Bay is no exception. The tidal mudflats that likely make the bay useless for anchoring purposes make it anything but useless for beachbound adventurers, who can find all manner of marine riches along the shoreline. Although the beach at Useless Bay can be hiked at any time, it is best to plan your trip on an ebb tide, when the beach is effectively twice its normal size and the flourishing life below the high-water line is exposed. Check local tide charts for more information. The Useless Bay Tidelands are technically part of the Washington State Park system. But the land is not shown as a park on most maps and the area remains undeveloped, except for a few facilities adjacent to the parking lot. Private beachfront houses run along the shore to the east toward Deer Lagoon and Sunlight Beach, with small pleasure-craft moored out on the water. If you arrive at low tide these boats might be resting on the mud, which stretches almost a quarter mile away from the shore without any significant drop-off.
Download Trail Guide
View Topo Map
Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Freeland
Length: 4 total miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
Season: Year round
Trailhead Elevation: 50 feet
Top Elevation: 50 feet
Local Maps: USGS Hansville
Trail Photos
Got photos of this trail?  Upload Now
View All Photos

Recent Trail Reviews


Very popular trail. Parking lot was full and I had to hike an additional .5 mile to the trailhead. Very well defined trail. Not a place to go for soitude!


Love this trail. Yes it can get crowded in afternoon (go early if at all possible) BUT for lush scenery, rapids, and a magnificent waterfall, it is a terrific day hike. For more peple but does have some moderat sections as described in gen discrip.

View All Reviews