The canal is really not a canal but an 80-mile-long, tide-washed channel from Admiralty Inlet. Gravelly beaches, stretches of sedge-covered lowlands, and gold-brown tide flats frame the placid waters. Rafts of logs sleep in protected inlets, and fishing craft rock safely at anchor or cut their way across the placid surface of the water. For miles the highway hugs the western shore of the canal, into which flow numerous creeks making stop-and-go, staircase descent. On warm spring days the beaches are dotted with clam diggers, shovels and buckets in hand, trousers rolled above their knees.
The canal was named by Captain George Vancouver on May 13, 1792. In his journal he records: “Early on Sunday morning, the 13th, we embarked directing our route down the inlet, which after the Rt. Honorable Lord Hood, I called Hood’s Channel.” For some reason the name appeared in Vancouver’s Voyage of Discovery as Hood’s Canal. The United States Geographical Board dropped the possessive form.