North America > United States of America > Pacific Northwest > Washington (state) > Puget Sound > Kitsap Peninsula > Olalla (Washington)
Olalla means "place of many berries" from the native Chinook word "olallie." Olalla Valley strawberry farms were an important source of strawberries for the Seattle markets, shipped over via the Mosquito Fleet via Colvos Passage by boats such as the famous Virginia V. This historic area is a combination of thick forests, small farms, streams and scenic country roads surrounded by Puget Sound.
Olalla has some small claim to fame as the location of an early 20th century health retreat (Sanitarium) called Wilderness Heights a.k.a. "Starvation Heights", The sanitarium was owned and operated by Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard. Dr. Hazzard's practice of starvation to cure one's ills resulted in the death of a visiting English heiress in 1911, and the conviction of Dr. Hazzard for her murder. The original bathtub where Hazzard performed autopsies is still in the house, which has a family residing there. However, she also maintains a strong following, in the US, Europe and Australia, that testify to her fasting techniques as having cured them of many ills and believe she was ahead of her time, both then and now, in her methods.
There are several main roads that lead through the area including the Olalla Valley Road and Banner Road, both of which have easy access from the ferry at Southworth and can be reached by driving scenic back roads from Gig Harbor.
Olalla has many hilly and twisty country roads which are popular with bikers coming over from Seattle or any of the other more populated areas. Many maps of suggested scenic bike rides can be found online but be forewarned that it may be awhile between pit stops so plan accordingly.
- 1 Al's Marina, 13925 Olalla Valley Rd SE, ☏ . Calling this a 'marina' may be a stretch, it's more like a boat ramp in a tidal area that is difficult in low tides. However Al's does provide gas and basic food and beer needs and has the distinction of being the only real Puget Sound water access between Gig Harbor and a boat ramp near Southworth. Also has a floating dock accessible mostly at high tide where boaters can tie up for a short period to shop at the store.
- Washington State Ferries, ☏ . Connects downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, and Vashon Island, and connects West Seattle to Vashon Island and Southworth near Olalla, (Kitsap Peninsula). All ferries are for both vehicles and passenger except the ferry between downtown Seattle and Vashon Island and connections to buses can be made at all ferry terminals for walk on passengers. The Southworth terminal provides the best access to Olalla however be warned that lines can get long during the summers and holidays. Try to avoid peak times such as commuting peak hours heading towards Seattle in the mornings and leaving Seattle in the late afternoons. Friday late afternoon and Sunday late afternoon should also be avoided if possible or at least plan on arriving early to avoid congestion. prices change depending on season, number of passengers and destination, check website for latest pricing, regional ORCA cards do not work for drive on passengers.
Olalla can be reached via the Fauntleroy, Vashon, Southworth ferry from the north and from the South via Gig Harbor and the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Located on the Kitsap Peninsula with its nearly 371 miles of coastline Olalla is an excellent place to explore by boat.
- Kitsap Transit, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Kitsap Transit offers transit services throughout the area including pickup from all ferry terminals and connects with Mason Transit (Mason County), Pierce Transit (Pierce County), and Jefferson Transit (Jefferson County) offering connections outside of the area. full fare $2 and is part of the regional ORCA network system.
Olalla Valley is home to many historical barns and structures including the Olalla Community Club and the Olalla Bible church. Drive down Olalla Valley Road on the way in or out for a nice view of the club, the church and about a half a dozen very old barns.
- Olalla Community Club, 12970 Olalla Valley Rd (* lat=), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This historic hall is available to rent and its purpose is to 'stimulate culture through recreation, lectures, plays, dances, concerts and education.'
- Bandix Dog Park (Bandix Road SE at Burley-Olalla Rd Kitsap). large off leash park for dogs
- [formerly dead link] Banner Forest (trail heads are near the corner of Olalla Valley Road and Banner Road). W 635-acre hiking, equestrian and biking park with a designated wetlands.
- Olalla hosts an annual Polar Bear Jump on January 1 and Bluegrass Festival the third Saturday in August. There are several nice parks in the area including Anderson Point Park and a public salt water boat launch near the intersection of Olalla Valley Road SE and Banner Rd SE.
Unlike many beach areas in the Puget Sound Olalla does offer a long sandy beach at Anderson Point Park. Oysters, clams and moon snails are common sites and seals, otters and eagles are not uncommon.
Sea shells and driftwood are considered part of the natural environment and should not be removed, however the often rocky and wild shores are havens for creating and revealing beach glass and anything artificial found is fair game for removal. Be respectful of private property and gentle with sea creatures. Keep a wide distance away from nesting birds, seals and other shore animals and always put back anything removed from the shoreline.
- Anderson Point County Park, 8401 SE Millihanna Rd. This 66-acre park has a pathway through thick forests leading down to a broad sandy beach with views of Vashon Island. Don't leave any valuables in your car at the trailhead.
It is common to see horses being ridden in the areas around Olalla and drivers should be vigilant watching for horseback riders traveling on the side of the road. Banner forest is common destination for riders that share the trails with mountain bikers and hikers.
Pets Galore Horseback Riding ((by appointment only)), 13659 Cedar Glen Ln SE, ☏ .
The Olalla boat launch is on an estuary with a wide variety of birds and just across Colvos Passage from Vashon Island making it an excellent place to start a Sea kayaking adventure and a rewarding way to explore the Kitsap Peninsulas 371 miles of coastline allowing the paddler a closer and slower look at their surroundings and making Kitsap one of the most popular areas to kayak in Puget Sound. Thick forests of majestic pine and deciduous trees and hundreds of creeks and estuaries dot the coastline. Or just explore Kitsaps many harbor towns that cater to kayakers with shops and restaurants accessible from the water. Harbor Seals, Otters, Sea Lions, Bald Eagles and Blue Herons are common sites while the occasional viewing of an Orca or Grey Whale is not out of the question.
Organized trails offer overnight camping options and maps of appropriate and scenic travel destinations.
- Kitsap Peninsula Water Trails. The National Parks Service named the this 'Trail of the Month' in the entire USA for the month of December 2012, PDF copies of the water trails map are available
- Cascadia Marine Trail. Olalla is a good launch site for the Mid Sound Section of this inland sea trail that is designated one of only 16 National Millennium Trails by the White House. Suitable for day or multi-day trips, the Cascadia Marine Trail has over 50 campsites to visit including Lisabeula on nearby Vashon Island just across Colvos Passage from Olalla.
Although Olalla was once a thriving business center larger than Port Orchard, there are not many businesses left in the area except Al's, small farms, a few local craftspeople and a small farmers market in the summer.
- Al's Grocery & Old Fashioned Butcher Shop, 13965 Crescent Valley Rd SE, ☏ . An Olalla institution whose ownership has changed several times but is still a community standard for adventures that need restocking in the area including gas.
- [dead link] Olalla Valley Farmers Market (the field next to the Olalla Bible Church). mid April thru mid Oct Every Saturday 8:30AM - 2PM. A small farmers' market in the Olalla Valley with local crafts and produce.
The popular Olalla Valley winery is in the area and should be a stop for anyone exploring the area's wineries.
- Olalla Valley Vineyard and Winery, 13176 Olalla Valley Road SE. It's on a promontory over looking Olalla Bay, Puget Sound and Vashon Island. They have a Winery & Tasting Room available for private gatherings that accommodates up to 35 people. It is available for private gatherings such as meetings, wedding rehearsal dinners, small weddings or groups that want a private wine tasting. Food can be included with four options for meals. The menu was especially selected for the winery and provided by Le Grarmache' of Port Orchard. Their Tasting Room is decorated with old world charm and most furnishings are antique in nature. a great place to sample wines and enjoy the view and coffee is available for those that need something extra.
Grape Wines - Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Voignier, Gobulak (A Russianred fleshed grape that does well in the Olalla Valley).
Berry Wines - Blackberry Wine, Raspberry Wine
Other Wines - Lavendar, Marionberry, Loganberry, Boysenberry and Apple
- Child's House Bed & Breakfast, 8331 S.E. Willock Road.
- The Edgewater House, 11967 Luna Vista Ave SE.
Olalla is an excellent launching area to explore the area by boat however there are a few things to know. The tidelands at the boat launch become challenging at extreme low tide as the whole area becomes a large mud flat. After the boat ramp boaters will need to pass under a bridge to gain access to Puget Sound which means no sailboats or any boats with a large mast. Olalla is about 6 nautical miles from Gig Harbor but the current in nearby Colvos Passage generally runs northward which would make a southbound journey difficult for paddlers. The next large port to the north is in Manchester with a smaller hand carried outtake closer to Southworth. Vashon Island is also nearby including Lisabeula Park which offers overnight access for non motorized boats.