penrose point swimming

Exploring Penrose Point State Park in Lakebay, Washington

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Washington State Parks are an impressive bunch, but Penrose Point State Park is one of our favorites. It helps that it’s close to home for us, but people drive from all over for the easy water access, fun trails, boat mooring sites, and family-friendly camping.

What to Know

  • Penrose Point State Park is located in Lakebay, Washington.
  • Penrose Point State Park is a 237-acre forested park with two miles of saltwater shoreline along Mayo Cove and Carr Inlet on the Puget Sound.
  • There is a dock, mooring buoys, and a boat pump-out available at this marine park.
  • Penrose Point State Park features a forested campground and 2.5 miles of trails.
penrose point day use area
Penrose Point State Park Day Use area is popular for a reason: a sandy beach on Carr Inlet bordered by a grassy field with picnic tables and barbecues makes for the perfect summer spot.

Beaches at Penrose Point State Park

We go to Penrose Point for the beaches. They are a very easy stroll from the campground, and having two very different options at the same park is part of the fun.

To the west is Mayo Cove, low-tide gold. There’s a dock, picnic tables, and fresh water to rinse off with, but never mind all that, because we are high-tailing it out to that flat expanse of hard sand. My kids can find critters where I see nothing but dirty swimsuits, and at low tide you can catch all kinds of sea life here.

Walk out to the shoreline and you can go swimming, too. Be aware that on busy hot days in the summer there will be a lot of boats here, so safety first.

There’s very little parking at the top of the trail down to Mayo Cove, so you get fewer day-use visitors here, and we have never encountered anything you’d call a crowd.

To the east, there’s the day-use beach along Carr Inlet. Here you’ll find a grassy area perched above a sandy beach and an excellent swimming spot. It’s a perfect place to plant yourself for the day with a shade umbrella, picnic basket, etc. It can get quite crowded in the summer.

To beat those crowds, take the hiking trails further east (or follow the beach at low tide) to the other side of the inlet, where there’s a quieter beach and a brackish pond, perfect for adventurous kids.

Boating

With 8 moorage buoys and 270 feet total of moorage, Penrose Point is a very popular boat-in park in the summer. There is a public marina with an accessible pump-out. 

There’s a dock at Mayo Cove, and from there you can walk up a short trail to the park and find picnic tables, restrooms, and a picturesque view of the Sound.

Be aware that moorage fees are charged daily from 1 p.m. to 8 a.m. year-round; annual permits are available. 

Penrose Point State Park Camping
The wooded campsites at Penrose Point State Park are part of why we love it so much!

Camping

Penrose Point is a pretty standard state campground: paved roads, restrooms with showers. What we love about it, however, is that all the sites are gorgeously wooded, surrounded by cedar, alder, madrona, and maple trees. It’s rare to find this type of campsite this close to a beach. 

There are both tent and RV sites available.

This is family-friendly campground, and you may hear dogs howl and babies occasionally cry at night. Don’t forget the kids’ bikes and scooters (as I always do). At dinnertime, the paved loop is a veritable Indy 500 of the under-10 set. 

If you have a large group, check out the amazing group campsite. It’s closer to the day-use area (the Carr Inlet beach) and can accommodate 20-50 people in tents or RVs. 

Things to do at Penrose Point State Park

At Penrose Point State Park, you’ll see people swimming, boating, water-skiing, and generally enjoying the rare hot summer days we have on the Puget Sound.

Even on cold days, the low tides at Mayo Cove provide for excellent tide-pooling adventures.

If you love wildlife, watch for bald eagles soaring overhead and look for crabs and other sea creatures on the beach.

In the evening, let the kids ride bikes while you try your hand at horseshoes. The hiking trails are just about the right speed for beginner hikers; watch for huckleberries as you amble along them. 

penrose point state park view
The view of Carr Inlet from the picnic tables at Penrose Point State Park gets five stars from us.

Tips for Visiting

Penrose Point is located only 1 hour and 20 minutes from Seattle by car, making this a popular summer camping spot. We recommend early reservations through Washington State Parks.
Day use at Penrose Point State Park requires a Discover Pass ($30/year) or a $10 day pass. 

The closest full grocery store to Penrose Point is the Food Market in Key Center. If you find you forgot small but critical items (like s’mores ingredients, maybe?), there is a gas station and a couple small shops close to the park in Lakebay.