By Sea with Backpack: Meet the Cascadia Marine Trail
Author: Richard Porter | Photographer: Jake Campbell
Meet the Cascadia Marine Trail. It allows you to paddle or row your way to the coasts of the true PNW.
The Cascadia Marine Trail is actually a series of interconnected trails that adorn the coasts of the Puget Sound region of the Salish Sea in Washington State. There is no unifying land trail, but rather a system of hikeable campsites near waterways. These campsites are accessible by human-powered watercraft like kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards. The “trail” is mostly over water.
The marine trail system has 66 campsites and 160 day-use sites. From the hiking paths, you can access places to stay overnight — whether you’re pitching a tent in a state or county park or staying in a yurt.
The web of the Cascadia Marine Trail is considered to be one path with many routes, a choose your own adventure.
The Cascadia Marine Trail connects areas all over the vast body of water that is the Salish Sea, from the Canadian border the San Juan Islands to the extremity of the Olympic Peninsula. Conceivably, if you had a lot of free time, great upper body strength, and a gung-ho sense of outdoor resourcefulness, you could paddle all of the major waterways in and surrounding the Salish Sea.
The Cascadia Marine Trail is maintained by the Washington Water Trails Association, a volunteer-driven nonprofit dedicated to preserving the health of Washington’s shorelines.
Water travel on the Salish Sea isn’t a new idea.
The trail continues a 10,000 year-old tradition of traveling the Salish Sea by native populations. Indeed, even after the arrival of white settlement, the waterways were the primary routes for regional transportation.
In the late 1800s and early 20th century, Puget Sound-area locals traveled from city to city via the so-called “mosquito fleet”: a network of water taxis, riverboats, and paddle wheelers that connected seaside communities along the Salish Sea— like Anacortes, Edmonds, Everett, and Seattle.
Enjoy the greenery and waterways of the region by sea in a uniquely Pacific Northwest way: by sea with backpack in tow.