Chimacum Creek By Small Boat

Chimacum Creek is located a touch over four miles almost due south of Port Townsend. The mouth of the creek is located in Port Hadlock, WA. The creek and the surrounding water shed are very important for wildlife and fish life, and to the native and more recent residents. So when visiting by small boat, please travel with respect and make no impact.

It is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit by small boat. There are ample opportunities for viewing waterfowl, and the hills around the creek are covered in forests.

Tips For Visiting Chimacum Creek By Small Boat

Read below for a bunch of helpful tips for your visit to Chimacum Creek. And check out this story of a recent visit in my dinghy, with many more pictures.

Getting To Chimacum Creek

It is a bit over four miles to the mouth of Chimacum Creek from the Port Townsend Boat Haven Marina. So depending on your boat, SUP, kayak, rowboat or small sailboat, it will likely take between one and two hours.

If there is a northwest wind, which is common in the summer and even in the winter, things should go quicker. But we also get some south winds, more commonly in the winter, which can slow you down. One way or another, you very likely will be heading into a wind. A south wind tends to kick up bigger waves, particularly if it is blowing against the tide direction.

Port Townsend Bay does not tend to have very strong currents, unless there is a big tide. If you are leaving from Point Hudson Marina, there can be stronger currents close to the point. And as you get closer to Chimacum Creek, and the bay narrows down toward the canal between Port Hadlock and Indian Island, the currents certainly get faster. You should always expect to experience a knot or two of current on this adventure.

Pick A High Tide

If your goal is to travel into Chimacum Creek a good distance, you will need an eight foot high tide minimum. The tide times for Port Townsend seem to work well enough for Chimacum Creek. I went on a nine foot tide and rowed about as deeply up the creek as seemed possible.

If you time things correctly with a very high tide, you should be able to travel over 3000 feet up the creek, so long as you have a very shallow craft. This adventure is only suitable for small rowing and paddling craft that draw a few inches. Do not attempt to sail up the creek. And definitely do not use a motor to go up the creek.

Landing Your Boat

Just outside the creek mouth, the beach running south is almost all part of Irondale Beach County Park. It is a good place to pull in and stretch your legs. You should not try and exit your boat anywhere inside the creek.

By the way, if you do go at a very high tide, there is also a tidal flat bay to explore inside Kala Point that is fun to dink around in. You can read more about in my spoilers story at the link near the bottom of the page.

48°02’56.0″N 122°46’16.5″W (mouth of Chimacum Creek)

Nautical Charts
NOAA Electronic Chart – US5WA28M – This link goes to an agreement page. You must read it and click OK at the bottom of the page. This will trigger a download of a zip file that contains the electronic chart.
NOAA Paper Charts – 18464 (PDF)

Tide & Current Chart
NOAA Tides & Currents For Port Townsend

Marine Weather Forecast
NOAA Marine Weather For Port Townsend Bay


There are picnic tables and a portable toilet at Irondale Beach County Park.


Proceed at your own risk. The information on this page is not guaranteed to be accurate, and should not be used for navigation. If you capsize, or fall into the water, you most certainly could die within a few minutes from cold water shock, particularly if you are not wearing a life vest. Even in late summer. Even if you are very fit and a great swimmer. Always wear a life vest, and have the recommended safety equipment. Always check the weather and tide forecast, and proceed based on your skill set and the capability of your boat. It is better to travel with others, and to let someone on shore know your plans.

Learn about cold water shock, which is more dangerous than hypothermia.

More About Chimacum Creek

Chimacum Creek is named after the Native American people who lived in this area before a massive population decline. You can read more about them here.

The Chimacum Creek watershed in somewhat recent years has gone through a massive preservation effort to clean it up, secure the land for the future. The Chum salmon run returned, and other species benefited as well. Read more about those efforts here.

Chimacum Creek Spoilers

You can see many more pictures and read about one of my adventures to Chimacum Creek here.

Return to the Port Townsend Small Boat Day Trips page.

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