Back to Explore

Outdoor Addict: Penrose Point State Park

The beach looked like a war zone - oysters versus the seagulls

Penrose Point State Park has an excellent beach for clam and oyster hunting. Photo credit: Whitney Rhodes

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Some days I feel like the Black Night from Monty Python. "Your leg's come off!"  "'Tis but a flesh wound!" Not to be dramatic or anything but this whole tripod thing gets real old. However I managed to persevere and take a friend through a spring rite of passage for those of us who grew up around here. Shellfish gathering in fickle spring weather.

I have overlooked the Key Peninsula for far too long. I've lived here my whole life and yet have only been across the Purdy Spit a handful of times. I can tell you I've been missing out. It proved to be the perfect location.

I know, first it's on the other side of that toll bridge. Second, you have to drive in a big u-shape, which seems counter productive. Third, the Purdy what?! Yes dear reader we are going to drive across the blessed toll bridge, get off the highway on a windy road, and hang a left where the land seems to be impossibly small - barely large than the road. This is the Purdy Spit (no I didn't say you had a purdy mouth) and it leads to fun.

Today our destination is Penrose Point State Park. Here you'll find campgrounds, a boat launch and a day use area. The day use area is my favorite. A grassy field acts almost like an infinity pool with the beach as the horizon. When the tide is out you'll find an excellent beach for clam and oyster hunting, or just walking and exploring.

We arrived to find the tide out and beach stretched out in front of us. The spring weather did its part well - hazing us with alternating howling wind, sun breaks, and down pours. After passing through the swampy soggy section of sand, we started encountering tide pools. They were filled with skittering teeny crabs. And the beach looked like a war zone - oysters versus the seagulls. The oysters were slaughtered, their shells littering the beach every few feet. It was a massacre. We stumbled upon one hardy survivor. A crab buried in a damp hole, covered in mud. My companion decried his situation, fussing that there was no way he had enough water, and insisted on moving him to a better pool. I explained the proper technique on how to pick up a crab to avoid the claws and watched with delight as my companion took several tries to get the crab in hand. Sufficiently satisfied he had enough water in his new pool, we continued on down the beach.

Neither my companion nor myself are a big shellfish eater. We merely observed everyone else at the park gathering these fresh, briny treats. Shellfish harvesting is well regulated, both for quantity of gathering and for human protection from pollution. But if you follow all of the rules it can be a great family fun activity - with an end result many would find tasty.

We continued on our beach adventure. Braving wind and rain to discover enormous barnacles, joust with seagulls, and end up with soggy pants and shoes. The rain came down sideways at one point, but it couldn't dampen our spirits. We attempted to check on our crabby friend, but couldn't find home again. The seagulls refused to talk when asked if they had made him a casualty too. We decided to assume he had buried himself in the mud again.

Penrose Point State Park

  • 8 a.m. to dusk
  • 321 158th Ave. KPS, Lakebay
  • Follow SR 302 (Key Peninsula Highway) south through the towns of Key Center and Home. Turn left at Cornwall Road. KPS (second road after crossing the Home Bridge). Continue about 1 1/4 miles, and turn left onto 158th Avenue KPS. Follow this street into the park.
Read next close

We Recommend

Friday, May 24: Levels

comments powered by Disqus