Fort Worden State Park is one of my favorite places to take my dogs when visiting Port Townsend, Washington.
With a rich history, over 430 acres of land crisscrossed by miles of trails, and over 2 miles of saltwater shoreline, it’s a great place to play and relax with your dog.
Note: You will need a Discover Pass to park anywhere within Fort Warden State Park.
The History of Fort Worden State Park
One hundred years ago, Fort Worden was home to nearly 1,000 troops and officers training to defend the Puget Sound from potential enemy invaders.
Constructed between 1898 and 1920, Fort Worden is part of the “Triangle of Fire”, along with Fort Flagler and Fort Casey, along the entrance of Admiralty Inlet used to protect Puget Sound from invasion by sea.
Fort Worden was one of the largest Endicott Period (1890-1910) forts to be built and a rare example of a post built according to the precepts of the Endicott Board on land not already occupied by an existing fortification.
The forts never fired a hostile shot, and many of the guns were removed during World War I for use in Europe; all remaining now-obsolete guns were scrapped during World War II.
The oldest building on the post is Alexander’s Castle, a brick residence built in 1883 by Reverend John Barrow Alexander (1850-1930) which pre-dates the military presence.
Are Dogs Allowed at Fort Worden?
Yes, Fort Worden is dog friendly.
Dogs are allowed almost everywhere in the park, except for active buildings and museums, including all trails and beaches.
Dogs are allowed in the concrete military bunker and battery structures and there are many large, front-facing rooms you can enter safely with your dog.
Several of the bunkers have narrow tunnels between the walls that can be explored but beware – some of the tunnels are flooded with water, some have metal and glass (from vandals) on the floor, and many dogs are scared by the dark and loud echoes of your footsteps.
At the very least, bring a headlamp and be prepared to turn around if your dog starts feeling uncomfortable.
Things to Do With Your Dog at Fort Worden State Park
There are over 11 miles of dog friendly hiking trails, including, 2.6 miles of ADA hiking trails, at Fort Worden.
You and your dog could literally spend all day walking around the park.
If you hike up onto the bluff, you can see the remnants of many 100-year-old military bunkers.
One of my favorite hiking routes in the park begins down to the beach near the lighthouse (I leave my vehicle there).
Then walk west along the beach to North Beach.
Once at North Beach, I wander further west in search of sea glass if time and the tide allows (watch the tide closely so you don’t get stuck).
If I don’t have time, or when I’m done beachcombing, I head back into Fort Worden via the North Beach Trail.
The route I take over the bluff varies depending on how far I want to walk, which bunkers and batteries I want to see, and which route I took last time (I try to take a different one each time).
Sometimes I hang a left and walk along Searchlight Road and the Bluff Trail to take in spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Other times I continue around to the right until I intersect Gun Line road and hike up to what I think are the most spectacular historic military gun batteries at Fort Worden.
No matter which route I take, my ultimate destination is the (somewhat steep) Beach Campground Trail where I can walk back down to the beach where my car is parked.
This route can be as short as 4 miles to 6 miles or more.
If hiking or walking long distances are not your thing, you can play on the beach with your dog or sit and watch the birds and boats go by.
For the best views of the lighthouse, take the short walk over the sand dunes to the beach. You can see it from the end of Harbor Defense Way if you just want to drive there and snap a few pictures though.
If you still want to see one of the old concrete military structures, you can access the Battery Kinzie from a parking lot near the beach campground.
Because of the easy access, this bunker has been vandalized more than the others but it is still really neat.
Where to Stay at Fort Worden With Your Dog
Whether you are looking for camping or luxury, some solo accommodations or to bring the whole family, Fort Worden has something for you.
Much of the Victorian-era military housing in the park has been restored and can be rented. Four units are dog friendly and can accommodate 2-6 people.
The dog friendly rental units are:
- Bandmaster’s House
- Corporal’s Duplex
- Quartermaster’s Cottage
- Colonel’s Duplex
The price ranges from $170-$460 (excluding taxes) per night plus an additional $30 per pet per night. The limit is two dogs but there is no weight restriction.
Fort Worden Campgrounds
There are two campgrounds at Fort Worden State Park.
The Forest Campground is close to the main entrance to the park and tucked behind the main building complex.
The Beach Campground is located down by the beach and is adjacent to the lighthouse.
Camping fees range from $30-$45 per night. Additional vehicles will need a Discover Pass to park at your campsite.
Click here for campground reservations.
Note: Reservations for either campground often have to be made up to a year in advance. It’s a little easer to find an available on-site house to rent but reservations still likely need to be made months in advance.
Dog Friendly Restaurants Near Fort Worden State Park
Most of the concessions within Fort Worden State Park are only open seasonally.
If you happen to be visiting when it’s open, the Reveille offers a grab and go menu of drinks, soup, sandwiches, and pastries Monday through Friday 9 am to 2 pm.
You can grab a quick snack and sit on one of the building steps to enjoy or carry it up to one of the bunkers, or a the beach, for an impromptu picnic.
The Cablehouse Canteen is a general store and beachside snack shack open in the summer (currently closed until May 2021).
Here you can get lunch fare like hamburgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, as well as to-go beer, to take to the beach.
For a more reliable source of noms (not just seasonal), head into town and eat at one of the many dog friendly restaurants in Port Townsend.