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Saltwater State Park, Des Moines

(25+ reviews on the web)
Outdoor Activity
Saltwater State Park is a 87.4acre plot of second-growth timber on Puget Sound in the City of Des Moines, Washington, United States halfway between Seattle and Tacoma. The main attraction is 1445ft of saltwater beachfront, including a sandy swimming beach in the southwest corner, and rocky tideflats along the west with a submerged artificial reef that is popular with scuba divers. A forty-person group camp looks down on the beach from a high bluff.Overlooked by most visitors is the steep ravine of McSorley (formerly Smith) Creek which winds inland in a gentle "S" curve joined by three tributary streams. Fifty-two campsites are situated on a road that parallels the creek, serving the public on a first-come-first-served basis. On both the north and south sides of the ravine there is a network of hiking trails which follow up the side creeks, rise through jungles of stinging nettles, skirt the edges of cliffs and ridges, and cross wooded plateaus.As of 2009, Saltwater State Park has been designated a Marine Protected Area. Salmon spawn in McSorley Creek and the area provides habitat for many species of fish. There is some concern that the increase in visitors to the park due to the artificial reef may harm fish populations. In addition, the boundaries of the Marine Protected Area are not well marked and both professional and amateur geoduck harvesters may sometimes accidentally be out of compliance with the Marine Protected Area harvest restrictions.Marine View Drive passes over the park on a 200ft high bridge, and 16th Avenue S crosses two branches of McSorley Creek to form the eastern boundary. One trail rises between the two branches of the creek to exit the park, while another trail continues from the dead-end of the campground service road a short way east of 16th Ave. along the main branch of the creek, informally extending the park.
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  • I personally like this park as it feels a bit more nature oriented then a couple of the other area parks. The time that I went had quite a few birds. I would recommend coming a low tide as there is ob...  more »
  • Nice place to be at sunset. But too bad the beach access is blocked at the south end by a "private beach".  more »
  • Don't expect a decent campground. It is dumpy and rundown. My experience with state parks located in bustling urban areas has never been good. Seems that there are always "resident" campers , partiers...  more »
  • Nice park. I don't mind air traffic noise since this is still the city in my opinion. If you don't want to hear that, then drive further away. Took a nice hike on one of the trails which was really refreshing. I advise not to do it when it's windy and rainy like today. Will be back to visit for sure.
  • Good trail and plenty of beach area. They have part of the boardwalk closed but I'm sure they'll open it soon. Saw some of the campsites and they look decent...a few small ones but usable still. Lots of parking.
  • A nice little hidden gem. Every now and again I'll take a spur of the moment day trip, and after a little exploring on Google maps, found out about Saltwater. Being so used to public, non-state park beaches, I felt like a little kid looking at all the intact stones, driftwood, and shells. Beachcombers have gone through most of the places I've been! The beach here is rocky and pretty small, but the view and little trails set it apart. That, and how little known it is ensure it won't be crazy busy like some of the big name beaches around the sound.
  • A good place for a nature walk with kids during low tides. It's very clean but does not have many beach front spots to sit around. During holidays this place must be a very full place with groups on top of groups.
  • Nice little park with some nice campsites but it's right on the approach to SeaTac so don't expect much peace and quiet there are Jets flying low over head all the time.