Ozette Lake Kayak Camping & Photography [Video]

Ozette Lake is Washington’s third largest natural lake, and is protected within the boundaries of Olympic National Park (although the forest has been logged right up to the Park boundary, sometimes just a few hundred feed from the lake’s eastern shore). I have always thought that Ozette Lake (also called Lake Ozette) would make a great sea kayak camping and photography trip. And so it was.

I launched from Swans Bay, at the northeast corner of the lake, circled around Garden Island, paddled south along the east shore and then crossed over to Tivoli Island. A clear sky and calm winds made the paddle easy. The excellent campsite on the northeast corner of the island was occupied, so I set up my camp on the island’s southwest corner at a nice wind-protected site behind a large fallen cedar. Here I wold spend four nights using Tivoli Island as a base-camp for exploring the whole south half of the lake.

Autumn leaves on shore of Lake Ozette, Olympic National Park, Washington
Autumn leaves on shore of Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a7R IV and Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens, f/16, 1.6 sec, ISO 100
Log fallen into Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Log fallen into Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a7R IV and Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens, f/11, 6 sec, ISO 100
Stars above log fallen into Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Stars above log fallen into Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a7R IV and Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens, f/2.8, 4 min, ISO 1600

Day 2

My second day was mostly cloudy and spent exploring the entire south end of Ozette Lake. I paddled to Cemetery Point and searched for the old abandoned cemetery just south of there. No luck. It is probably just overgrown.

Next I paddled to Allens Bay to find the old abandoned Allens Bay Trail that runs 2.1 miles from the lake to the Pacific Ocean. As I approached the trailhead, I spotted a deer along the shoreline. I drifted within 30 feet of the buck, while it just laid there looking away from me and into the woods. As I recorded a video clip and narrated the situation into the camera, it kept looking into the woods. I’m pretty sure that it was looking for me in the woods because “that’s where humans come from.” I think the notion of a human approaching from the water was novel to him.

Male black-tail mule deer on shore of Ozette Lake
Male mule deer on shore of Ozette Lake, looking for me in the woods (even though I’m on the lake only 30 feet behind it).
Sony a6600 and Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS lens, f/6.3, 1/1000 sec, ISO 1600

I hiked down Allens Bay trail for about 1/3 mile, at which point the trail had deteriorated into a tunnel through the brush about 2-1/2 feet in diameter. Not wanting to crawl to the Pacific Ocean, I turned back to the kayak.

After paddling about 0.4 miles down Allens Creek, I continued my route around the south end of the lake, including a stop at Baby Island and down to South Creek.

Day 3

Day 3 was overcast with rain and wind in the forecast. A great day to spend in the forest.

So I paddled up to Ericsons Bay, found the Ericsons Bay Trail (officially called the South Sand Point Trail) and hiked it out to the Pacific Ocean. While the old boardwalks on the trail are in pretty bad shape, the old growth forest was excellent. A light rain started as I photographed western sword fern and western red cedar.

Western sword fern and western red cedar tree, Olympic National Park, Washington
Western sword fern and western red cedar tree, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a6600 and Sony 24-105mm f/4 G lens, f/16, 1 sec, ISO 400
Western sword fern and western red cedar trees line South Sand Point Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
Western sword fern and western red cedar trees line South Sand Point Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a6600 and Sony 24-105mm f/4 G lens, f/13, 1 sec, ISO 400

After returning to the kayak, I found a 20 knot wind coming out of the south on Ozette Lake. I attached my short towline to a deck-line on the boat (so the boat can’t blow away from me if I end up in the water) and started paddling south tight along the shoreline. The forest provided a great wind-break all the way to Cemetery Point, with only a short open water crossing to make back to Tivoli Island.

Day 4

With a beautiful sunrise and clear skies, I spent almost all of Day 4 photographing landscapes and shooting video on Tivoli Island. At sunset I paddled SSW to a spot on the lake shore I had scouted on Day 2. Here, a large candelabra cedar had fallen and overhung the shoreline. I shot stars above the old cedar framing Tivoli Island.

Tree on shore of Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Tree on shore of Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a7R IV and Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens, f/11, 1/20 sec, ISO 100
Branched dead tree on shore of Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Branched dead tree on shore of Ozette Lake, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a7R IV and Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens, 6-stop ND filter, f/16, 8 sec, ISO 100
Nightscape of Tivoli Island framed by branches of fallen cedar tree overhanging Lake Ozette, Olympic National Park, Washington
Nightscape of Tivoli Island framed by branches of fallen cedar tree overhanging Lake Ozette, Olympic National Park, Washington
Sony a7R IV and Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM lens, f/16, 34 min, ISO 1600

Day 5

Another beautiful clear-sky day … but unfortunately time to go home.

I paddled back along the east shore, exploring Boot Bay, Crooked Creek and Big River on the way back to the boat launch at Swan Bay.

In total, I paddled 35 miles and hiked 4 miles.

Wildlife sightings were not as profuse as I had hoped. I saw one deer, 6 loons, signs of river otter and about 20 belted kingfisher. The lake has many fallen trees overhanging its shoreline, making perfect habitat for the belted kingfisher. Perhaps I’ll return to Ozette Lake for a trip dedicated to just photographing these beautiful birds.

Google Earth map showing route paddled on Lake Ozette
Route paddled on Ozette Lake (Google Earth)

Thanks for reading and thank you for your support!

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