Weekend Getaway: Hit the beach at Taylor Bay Park

What: This is a 39-acre Key Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District park that offers easy saltwater beach access to South Puget Sound. There are three parcels, but the best portion is the water access to Taylor Bay, which feeds into the Nisqually Reach. The park features 600 feet of gravel beach, with an easy walk from the parking lot. The beach is not handicap accessible, however. The park also includes wetlands, a pocket estuary, mudflats, lagoon, salt marshes, two creeks, forested uplands, riparian areas and patches of open meadows.

Where: 17916 76th Street KPS, Longbranch

Getting there: Take state Route 16 west to the Purdy exit. Take state Route 302 west, then turn south on Key Peninsula Highway. Drive about nine miles to 76th Street. Turn right, go about 11/2 miles and the park will be on the left.

Of note: The easy water access and the bay make for a good place for beginners to try saltwater paddling. The park is a good spot for bird watching, including for great blue herons. Future development plans include building a trail and educational opportunities.

Cost: Free

Also: You could combine a trip to Taylor Bay with a stop at nearby Joemma Beach State Park.

Information: www.keypenparks.com

Jeffrey P. Mayor, staff writer