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HANSVILLE, Kitsap County — I have always been intrigued by the name Point No Point whenever I looked at a map of northern Kitsap County or wrote about how good the salmon fishing was off the point.

So when the family wanted to take a day trip, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what it was all about.

We found a county park that blends nature, history and plenty of opportunities for fun.

First, about the name. Native Americans living in the area had named the point Hahd-skus, meaning long nose. During the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841, however, Charles Wilkes approached the spit, thinking it was a substantial point. Once Wilkes realized it was much smaller than expected, he named the spit Point No Point.

But there’s more to it

The park might seem equally small when you arrive. It is a walk of maybe 20 yards from the parking lot to the beach.

But if you walk along the path past the keeper’s quarters and lighthouse and then step through the grass and over the beached logs, you realize just how much more beach there actually is — it seemingly stretches for miles.

And this is no typical rocky Puget Sound beach. This is a sand-castle-building beach. It’s a beach made for waterside picnics on a blanket under a warm day’s sun.

While we visited, people were flying kites, fishing for salmon, walking their dogs, hunting for shells and other marine treasures, watching boats and ships sail past and, yes, building sand castles.

“Every place you stand, you can look out over the water, it’s phenomenal,” said Jim Dunwiddie, director of the Kitsap County Parks Department.

The point is a great fishing spot, especially when pink salmon make their way south through the Sound on odd-numbered years, said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The shallow waters of the point make it easy for anglers to wade out far enough to cast toward the passing schools of fish.

Lighthouse shines

In addition to the beach, the lighthouse is the park’s star attraction. The oldest lighthouse along Puget Sound, it has been in operation since 1879.

Listed in the Washington State Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places, the complex includes the lightkeepers’ duplex that houses the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s executive offices and a vacation rental.

Using multiple grants, the U.S. Lighthouse Society has renovated the lighthouse “to really make that site look like it did in the 1930s,” Dunwiddie said.

Inside the lighthouse are displays of equipment once used there, historic photos and other lighthouse artifacts. The keeper’s quarters were renovated to be used as the vacation rental.

A woman sitting on the porch — with a great view of the marine traffic on Admiralty Inlet — sighed at the thought of returning home that Sunday afternoon. “This is the perfect spot, I don’t want to leave,” she said.

Bird haven, too

Adding to the park’s allure, there is a 28-acre wetland behind the keeper’s quarters. A walk along the wetland trail and the beach offers a chance to do some birding. The park is a designated Important Bird Area on Audubon Washington’s Great Washington State Birding Trail. The feeding opportunities in the wetland and open water on the Sound attract migrating flocks of birds as they make their way south.

During our visit, gulls wheeled overhead waiting for the chance to swoop down and swipe an unattended sandwich. Smaller songbirds flitted from bush to bush, trying to remain hidden.

Patricia H. Graf-Hoke has lived in the area for 33 years and now works as the executive director of Visit Kitsap Peninsula. “That is a fabulous area out there. The county park is great,” she said. “The beach walking there is really, really nice.

“(The park) is so close to these fairly dense urban areas like Seattle and Tacoma,” she added. “This is really a quick getaway to someplace that is really quite different.”