The paddle from Golden Gardens Park to West Point Lighthouse offers a great outing for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Begin by carrying your boats and gear down the small trail at the west end of the Ballard Elks Club parking lot. The 2-mile paddle to West Point Lighthouse offers views of birds, jellyfish, occasionally a curious seal, and other marine life.
After you pass the wooden pilings near the put-in, head south along the coast. The route is fairly flexible, and you can choose to stick closer to the shore or paddle further out to sea. While there is a fair amount of boat traffic in the area, the larger vessels tend to remain farther out. This makes the route an excellent paddle for beginners, but it also offers incredible scenery and the occasional wave from passing ships to keep more experienced paddlers entertained. Once you near the West Point Lighthouse, there are numerous beaches with views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and the Olympics that offer secluded spots for a lunch break or a place to rest in the sun before heading back toward Golden Gardens.
Note: If you park in the Ballard Elks Lodge parking lot, your car will most likely be towed. Once you have unloaded/loaded your kayaks and gear, move your car to the on-street parking on Seaview Avenue.
In total, the Puget Sound is home to 19 U.S. lighthouses still standing, not all of which are currently in use. Lighthouses and light stations include (from north to south):