Rat Island is closed to access at this time due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). "Closed" signs are posted around the island, the campground, and the boat launch. Keeping humans out of the area is a preventative measure and helps prevent the spread of the virus.
Clam, mussel, and oyster seasons OPEN for harvest January 1 through April 15, 2023.
CLOSED for shellfish harvest April 16 through June 14, 2023.
Clam, mussel, and oyster seasons REOPEN for harvest June 15 through December 31, 2023 only.
Rat Island and the spit west and south of the park boundary is CLOSED for harvest year-round from two white posts on the north end of the island at the vegetation line south to the end of the island. While some people access it on foot at low tide, we ask that you not do so until further notice due to a suspected outbreak of avian influenza.
Rat Island is a wildlife preserve. Please take care not to disturb birds or seals that may be present there. (See Beach Map)
Please Note: Harvesters are advised to use extreme caution when crossing the tidal channel to Rat Island. The channel can be dry at low tide, but during tidal exchanges the current through the channel can be very strong. The channel can also be deep in places. It's a good idea to keep an eye on the water level in the channel and to allow yourself plenty of time to return to the mainland before the tide gets too high. Please avoid the uplands of Rat Island. This is an important nesting and rearing area for gulls and other birds. If you are walking with dogs, please do not allow them to disturb the birds.
Most of the clam resource at Fort Flagler State Park is located on the spit that runs west from the park (see beach map). This is an excellent beach for butter clams. The best areas are on the Port Townsend Bay (north) side of the spit, in and around the tidal channel that separates the spit from Rat Island. These are also good places for large native littleneck clams and horse clams. There are pockets of Manila clams in the mid-high tidal zone near the boat ramp in Kilisut Harbor. Varnish clams and eastern softshell clams are found at Fort Flagler State Park near the boat ramp, along the south side of the spit. Geoducks are also found on this beach below the -2.0 foot tide level.
There are some oysters at Fort Flagler State Park, but they are not abundant.
To reach the site from the west on Highway 104 take the Chimacum/Port Townsend/Quilcene exit and turn left onto Center Road. Travel north for about 10 miles to Chimacum. Go straight through the four-way stop and continue about two miles to Port Hadlock. Turn right onto Oak Bay Road and proceed for one mile to Flagler Road. There is a sign at this intersection for Fort Flagler State Park. Take a left onto Flagler Road and continue across the Indian Island bridge. Proceed about seven miles to Fort Flagler. After you enter the park, take the first left that leads through the park's check-in station to the lower campground, boat ramp and parking area for the beach.
To reach the site from the east on Highway 104 from the Hood Canal Bridge take the Port Townsend/Port Ludlow exit (a right turn) and travel north on Beaver Valley Road (Highway 19) for about seven miles to Chimacum. Take a right at the four-way stop and continue about two miles to Port Hadlock. Turn right at the four-way stop onto Oak Bay Road and proceed for one mile to Flagler Road. There is a sign at this intersection for Fort Flagler State Park. Take a left onto Flagler Road and continue across the Indian Island bridge for about seven miles to Fort Flagler. After you enter the park, take the first left that leads through the park's check-in station to the lower campground, boat ramp and parking area for the beach.
A Discover Pass is required to park at Fort Flagler State Park.
Fort Flagler State Park offers camping, a military museum, two boat ramps, a concession stand (summer only), restrooms/showers, hiking trails, water and a dock. Popular activities include kite flying and biking.
Historically Rat Island was a spit attached to the point on Marrowstone Island, near the lower campground. The spit was breached in the 1940s when boats were dragged across it during military exercises. Since then, a combination of currents and sediment transport interruption caused by the north shore boat ramp have kept Rat Island cut off from Marrowstone Island except during very low tides. At one time this spit enclosed what was historically an approximately 22-acre salt marsh where the lower campground now sits.