Alderbrook Resort and Spa has been a destination on the Hood Canal since 1913. It started as a group of tents with stoves and has grown into the current resort that offers guestrooms, cabins, a golf course, a spa, a waterfront center, several restaurants, and well-maintained hiking trails.
The resort is oriented toward the water. Before there were roads, guests arrived on the propeller steam ship, the Dode. There was a busy Mosquito Fleet of the Puget Sound that brought supplies and guests into the area. Today, I can drive in, north from Shelton, WA, or west from Belfair, WA, but it is the water that continues to draw me back to visit.
On the resort’s large dock, guests can moor boats. Since I don’t have a boat, what I especially like is the chance to rent paddleboards and kayaks. I can even grab a friend to paddle around in a two person paddleboat in the quieter waters between the end of the dock and the resort shoreline.
On warm summer days, the dock area is bustling with activity. I also like to wander out early in the morning before most guests are up to enjoy the view up and down the Hood Canal.
For those who are feeling adventurous, the rental cabin on the dock also provides boating information on the Hood Canal and beyond to the Puget Sound. There are maps to ponder and boaters are generally happy to chat about their experiences throughout the Salish Sea.
The Resort Lawn
Once off the dock, there is plenty to do along the shoreline. In the evenings there is outdoor dining. Often, live music performances add to the experience.
And because the Pacific North West is a bit rainy in the winter and spring, a canopy provides cover, along with a bit of extra rain protection for each table. I do always appreciate the extra lights for extra cheer, too.
Right next to the outdoor dining area is the pool and spa. It is a treat to hop into the 85-degree Fahrenheit saltwater for a swim after a day on the water or hiking the nearby trails.
Because the pool is enclosed in glass, it provides maximum comfort along with views of the Hood Canal. There are early morning hours set aside for adults only swimming, so I can do some laps if I wish.
The spa is located at this eastern side of the resort, right next to the pool, and can also be accessed through the main building. Their services are popular, so I try to book ahead. A swim, a massage, and then breakfast is my choice to start the day.
Dogs are welcome guests, too. There are plenty of families with pups staying on the ground floor. If you are missing your own dogs, hanging out in the chairs, benches, and covered areas scattered around the lawn is a sure way to meet up with some new furry friends and their people.
The outdoor space is designed not only for play and relaxation, but takes cues from the natural beauty of the surrounding areas. There are water features with benches and seating nearby. Guest rooms look out towards the water, and each one has a small balcony.
I tend to bring a book and spend a little time reading near the water, then on my balcony, then out on the lawn, then next to the shoreline. Okay, I do also get a chance to chat with other guests, and that is part of the communal charm of wiling away the day.
Of course, the Hood and Fork, currently under canopy on a raised deck near the water, is a must try. In season, oysters are on offer not only in the traditional slurp-able form, but also grilled, and in chowder, for a start. The full menu also offers options for those in the group who are not charmed by oysters.
Indoors, there are more dining options, and the menu is constantly updated for seasonal options. I’ll just direct your attention to my dessert. Chocolate Porter cake is as delicious as it is beautiful.
Flavors include brown sugar buttercream icing, peanut and pretzel brittle pieces, salted caramel sauce accompanied by Canal Crunch ice cream. Is it any wonder I like to go in to the restaurant just for dessert at least one afternoon during my visit?
Inside the Resort
The lobby is filled with comfortable chairs, board games, and books. Especially when I visit during the winter and fall, the lobby is a cozy space to have a drink, meet up with friends, or read.
The enormous two-story stone fireplace, complete with multiple cushions and seating options is another feature of the lobby. I can usually find one of the two lobby cats, Alder or Brooke, nearby. A fireplace and cuddly kitties – works for me!
The rooms are comfort forward, too. Along with a balcony, I make use of the soaking tub and window seat.
Directly across from the resort property, there are hiking trails and a golf course. I’ve not tried the golf course yet because I am drawn to the trails.
The hiking options are well marked, and signage is plentiful for trekkers who are new to the area. As always, it is important to pay attention when on trails in Washington forests, so the trailhead includes cougar safety information.
Western White Trillium, the three segmented white flower is easy to spot along the trails in spring.
All the trails do rise steeply, but for those who want a short hike, the viewpoint loop is only half a mile, and the reward is a chance to gaze out from above the resort. On clear days, the Olympic Mountain peaks spread across the horizon. But even on overcast days, the view is worth the walk.
When I can, I make sure to stop at this little clearing, adjacent to the Gathering Grove. The weathered chairs look out over a forest ravine where deer trails crisscross. It is a perfect spot to sit quietly and watch for blacktail deer to pass. Once I’ve spent an hour or so here, the trail back to the resort, and more cake, is all downhill.