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Explore beyond the Narrows Bridge

Manchester State Park a highlight of the Kitsap Peninsula

Cyclists ride past the Torpedo Magazine at Manchester State Park. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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Manchester State Park is a hidden gem on the Kitsap Peninsula. Tucked away on the shores of Rich Passage, the site is filled with military history and fabulous water views.

One of the most unique places I've seen to have a picnic is inside Torpedo Warehouse.  It can be reserved for events and is space-available when not in use. The brick building, with its open arches, dramatic stone fireplace and beamed ceiling, has a weathered appearance against the backdrop of the forest. Braziers are located along the walls, making this a great place to have a family gathering with the unpredictable Pacific Northwest weather.

The park was once a coastal artillery fort known as Middle Point, which was built in 1900 to protect the shipyards at Bremerton. Torpedoes, which is what underwater mines were called, were stored in the warehouse, and a minefield was operated in Rich Passage. Another military site at the fort is Battery Mitchell, which was also built in 1900. It was completed but never fitted with the artillery guns it was designed to house. During World War II, it was used as a fuel supply depot.

Lots of activities will keep you busy during your visit.  In warmer months, enjoy the 3,400 feet of saltwater shoreline, which includes a nice cove with a beach.  A boating concession offers kayaks for rent, and the water beckons for those brave enough to confront the chill. The park is also a popular dive location.  Cast your line for fish with the proper license -- but no shellfish due to marine biotoxins.

For land lovers, there is lots to do as well.  Bring your own horseshoes and try your hand at the horseshoe pit. Or spend some time bird watching and viewing wildlife viewing.  The 1.9 miles of hiking trails give you a great venue to experience all Manchester has to offer.

A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to Washington State parks. It's $10 for a day pass or $30 for an annual pass. Insider tip:  Purchase your Discover Pass at one of the Outdoor Recreation locations on Joint Base Lewis-McChord prior to your visit.

Manchester State Park, daily, 8 a.m. to dusk, 7767 E. Hilldale Rd., Port Orchard, 360.871.4065, parks.state.wa.us/542/Manchester

On your way home, stop by Port Orchard, a cute coastal town with interesting shops and restaurants right next to the waterfront. Try Amy's on the Bay, an American eatery with a Korean flair. Enjoy a waterfront view of Sinclair Inlet and Bremerton while you eat on the patio. The town is very walkable, so after your meal, head out to explore the shops or stroll near the waterfront and view the ships across the way at Bremerton.

Amy's on the Bay, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 100 Harrison Ave., Port Orchard, 360.876.1445

The Kitsap Peninsula is well worth repeat trips.  Every time I venture across the Narrows Bridge I discover something new.

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