Complete Guide to Blake Island State Park near Seattle
Posted On July 21, 2021
In December 2021, Argosy cruises announced they are no longer operating the boat service to Blake Island. I hope public access to Blake Island is restored quickly! For the time being it is only accessible by private boat. I will update as new information becomes available.
Blake Island State Park is the most unique state park in Washington State! You can only get here by boat (see below for how to do this) and you get to an island with miles of hiking trails and beach to explore, a wonderful campground and an impressive view of both downtown Seattle and Tahoma (Mt Rainier). This is a truly unique place that is easy to get to without a car from downtown Seattle! You can visit Blake Island State Park on a day trip or an overnight or multi day camping trip.
Blake Island is the homeland of the Suquamish People. Chief Si’ahl (Chief Seattle – Suquamish/Duwamish, for whom the city of Seattle is named) is rumored to have been born here, although there are different accounts.
Blake Island State Park takes up the entire island and is located west of Seattle just south of Bainbridge Island and just north of Vashon Island.
Accessibility: There are ramps and flat, wide trails around the area of the docks. Many of the trails are wide and without any obstructions. Some of the smaller trails are steeper and have roots. There is an ADA accessible restroom.
Cell Service: Good.
Passes Needed: Visiting Blake Island itself is free, however there are fees for riding the ferry, camping and moorage at the dock or on the mooring balls.
Dog Friendly: Leashed dogs are welcome in the park, however dogs are not allowed on the ferry, so you’ll only be able to bring a dog if you have your own boat.
You can only get to Blake Island by boat, but don’t worry if you don’t have your own boat. You can take the Argosy Fast Ferry from Pier 55 right on the Seattle waterfront and costs about $30 round trip per person. The ferry goes several times a day during the season. You can make a day trip or use it to get to the campground for an unforgettable camping adventure.
If you have access to your own boat, you can get moorage in the harbor on the docks which have shore power. These docks get very busy in the summer and it can be hard to secure a spot. Another great option is to use one of the mooring balls that are located on both sides of the harbor.
If you have a kayak or beachable boat, you can just pull it up to the shore in the campground. Make sure that you secure your boat well above the tideline. It’s about 1.5 miles to paddle from Vashon Island or 2 miles to paddle from Manchester on the Kitsap Peninsula. You can paddle in about 5 miles from West Seattle, but keep in mind this requires crossing the busy shipping lanes of Puget Sound.
When is the best time of year to go to Blake Island State Park?
Blake Island State Park is a wonderful summer destination and the perfect place to soak up the sun of mid summer (July and August). The fast ferry and activities are generally offered May through September. The fast ferry sometimes runs into October. Most people will want to visit in June through September.
If you have access to your own boat, you can visit Blake Island State Park year round, the campground and docks are open and the trails are always available. Check with the park as the water may be turned off in winter.
Camping at Blake Island State Park
The campground at Blake Island State Park is one of my favorites! It’s definitely one of my top 3 campgrounds in Washington State. Where else can you enjoy your morning coffee on a remote island with a view of downtown Seattle and Mt Rainier?? It’s peaceful and quiet and the forests and beaches are a wonderful environment.
You do not need a reservation to camp on Blake Island. A few of the sites are reservable, but the campground very rarely fills, even in the summer. You can register and pay for a first come first serve site when you arrive (bring cash or a checkbook for this).
Blake Island has token operated showers (bring cash to use the token machine by the rangers office) and flushing toilets with running (cold) water. There are water spigots throughout the campground.
Blake Island State Park does NOT have trash service, you will need to take all your trash home with you.
It can get quite windy here, so make sure your tent is ready for wind and bring that rain gear for wind protection as well as potential rain.
There are firepits available and if there isn’t an active burn ban it’s a wonderful place to have a fire. You’ll need to bring firewood with you. Sometimes firelogs (not bundles of firewood but the pressed logs) are available in the camp store.
Make sure to use the animal proof brown metal containers provided to store all your food and items that have a scent. The raccoons on Blake Island are known to be aggressive and fearless about coming after your food, so make sure to keep it secured if you are not actively eating or preparing food.
There is also a group campground which is perfect for organized outings and a bit away and up the hill from the rest of the campground.
If you have a boat
If you have a boat, you can either tie up to a mooring ball or anchor and use your dinghy to come ashore. If you’re able to get a spot on the dock, you can just walk to the campground from there.
If you’re kayaking, just pull the kayak up on the beach above the high tide mark or you can keep your kayak at your campsite which is right next to the beach.
If you don’t have a boat
If you don’t have a boat and want to camp on Blake Island, book the fast ferry and bring your camping gear on the ferry!
Hiking Blake Island State Park
Blake Island is a fantastic place to hike, especially for those who like forests, water views and beaches and don’t like crowds. There are never crowds on these peaceful and beautiful trails. Many of the trails are wide converted old roads, which make it enjoyable for people to walk next to each other. There are 8 miles of hiking trails on Blake Island, if you go around the outer trail near the water and also go over the Cross Island Trail.
There are two loops that I recommend. Both of these give you a taste of the forests on the island as well as views of the beach. Each is about 3 miles and has about 200 feet of elevation gain:
Start on the Cross Island Trail (up the hill from the meadow in front of Tillicum Village) and head to the right on the blue trail at the water tower, which drops down to the trail that goes around the island and takes you to the Cascadia Marine Trail campsite and beach on the west side of the island. On the return, stay on the outer trail and have glimpses of the water to your left until you circle back and come out next to the Tillicum Village Longhouse.
Start on the same Cross Island Trail, but go left instead of right at the water tower. Continue up over the middle of the island and then start down on the other side. The last stretch of trail before you get to the outer trail around the island is a little brushy and steep, but it doesn’t last long. Once there, continue around the perimeter trail with glimpses of the water and the Southworth and Vashon Ferry terminals. The trail comes around back to the meadow between the campground and the docks/Tillicum Village
The first loop takes you to another beach, while the second doesn’t it has more views of the water and different sides of the island overall.
If you want to combine the two, you can do that by starting the first loop and then doing the second (or doing them on two different days while camping). You can also hike around the whole outside of the island, skipping the cross island trails. This will take you on a 4-5 mile loop depending on exactly which trails you take, with about 200 feet of elevation gain.
Other Things to do on Blake Island
Blake Island State Park is a paradise for those who love the beach. Near the campground is plenty of rocky beach to explore with lots of sitting driftwood logs, perfect for reading or taking in the view. The beach on the west side of the island rarely has anyone on it since you have to hike just under two miles to get there. I’ve even seen raccoons clamming during low tides here.
This is the perfect picnic destination! Bring that picnic over on the fast ferry and set it up on one of the many picnic tables in the meadow between the docks and the campground, with views of Seattle and Mt Rainier and lots of ferries and other boat traffic.
Blake Island State Park has large group picnic shelters that are covered and have barbeque and fire pits and are a wonderful and unique place to have an event. The picnic shelters can be reserved in advance.
Coast Salish Cultural Presentation
The Coast Salish Cultural Presentation gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about Coast Salish tribes, who live up and down the Salish Sea in Washington State and British Columbia. The show involves dancing and storytelling from Coast Salish traditions up and down the Northwest Coast. The cultural presentation is offered once or twice a day from mid June through late September.
The Longhouse Cafe offers lunch and happy hour at Tillicum Village, right at the head of the docks. It’s open seasonally and offers sandwiches and snacks as well as drinks. They also have propane fire pits you can rent and you can even get a s’more kit to go with it!
Kayaking and Stand up paddleboarding
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, rentals are available for kayaks and paddleboards. This is a wonderful way to explore the island with a tandem kayak or paddleboard without having to cross over with it to the island. It’s also a great place to try it for the first time.
The rental area is between the campground and one of the group picnic shelters near the marina. Just look for the racks of kayaks!
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
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