The Whidbey Institute
I first walked down this old farm road decades ago and felt the magic in this enchanting place. The century old Finnish farmhouse with the log sauna, the orchard and the lush green garden have welcomed visitors from around the world since the 1970s. Tucked into this woodland setting are gardens, trails and gathering places. The Whidbey Institute is an educational retreat center with over four miles of trails weaving through the forest around it. Whether you come for a program or just come for a walk, you'll be able to find a peaceful hour here. Drive to the lower parking area to access the trails where a kiosk provides a map. For an easy walk in a diverse forest, take the Wetland Trail which circles the retreat cabins and farmhouse. It follows an old logging road and borders a wetland with tall cedar stumps and snags. Or cross the bridge and climb into the Legacy Forest up to the Story House. Or cross the parking area and take the Granny's Trail or the Goat Trail to climb the hill, Continue by Granny's on narrow trails over the top of the hill and back down from the Story House to the bridge and back to the trail head. Take your time, and soak in the peace of this place. Please don't disturb the retreat cabins or other facilities and leave dogs at home or in the car. For more information about the programs at the Whidbey Institute visit: whidbeyinstitute.org/
Take Highway 525 and turn south on Cultus Bay Road. Drive just under a mile and turn right on Campbell Road. Go a half mile and turn left at the sign. Follow the one lane dirt road to the lower parking lot at the bottom of the hill. Find the kiosk with trail map on the south side of the lot. Open dawn to dusk.
Dune -- The dunes trail at west beach
Sand dunes. Picture the wind and waves at work to create over a mile of ridges, rows of ridges, like seating in a stadium overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In the busiest corner of Deception Pass State Park, apart from the bridge, you can find some of the greatest solitude, alone on a beach, amid the hillocks of grassy dunes, or wandering through forests of spruce, salal, and alder. Head south from the West Beach parking lot. The trail meanders between the primary dunes near the water and the secondary dunes further inland. The primary dunes support grasses and fledgling trees trying to establish toe holds in the shifting sand. The larger trees to the east are still only fifty to a hundred feet tall at most. And yet they have been here a long time – the oldest one is over 800 years old! Picture life here around the year 1219. Yeah, I can’t either. But life is all around us here. I like to wander the trail counterclockwise, going south along the trail near the beach, listening to surf and hopefully not the touch-and-go landings of the nearby jets. Then the walk through the dense woods back to the swimming beach shows how the dunes can eventually support what could be called an old-growth forest. Be aware of occasional trip hazards in the otherwise smooth, paved walkway. Look for the Wetland Overlook sign along the trail and take the short side trip to look out over what used to be part of Cranberry Lake, now filling in with moisture-loving plants and the animals who call this habitat home. Remember to have a Discover Pass if you park inside the state park. And enjoy one of the quietest beaches in the park, just a half-mile stroll from one of the busiest.
Directions: From Highway 20 turn west into Deception Pass State Park at the Cornet Bay Road intersection at the north end of Whidbey Island. Follow signs to West Beach, about a mile from the park entrance. Trails parallel the roadway if you are on foot.
Take A Hike Day on the Kettles Trail
This Hike of the Week is well known to cyclists, dog walkers, leg stretchers, skate boarders, skaters and baby strollers. However, until recently it has been a stranger to wheelchairs or hand-powered bikes. I was told the bollards were too close together to allow access for mobility devices. Fortunately, Island County Public Works were about to resurface this trail when they found out. Timing is everything. The work was done this summer and the bollards were moved to 48 inches apart. To celebrate, we're having a party Saturday, 2:15-3:00 starting at the corner by Coupeville Elementary School. You can get there by bus which has room for 2-3 bikes and 2 wheelchairs. I'll bring cider. You can bring snacks. We should also bring an umbrella, just in case. Stroll or Roll as far as you like. This trail goes west from Main Street toward Sherman Road with wonderful views of Ebey's Prairie and if the clouds clear, the Olympic Mountains. The trail crosses Sherman Road and continues toward Winterhawk Lane. It is hilly between the two, but if you continue west, it levels out. There are many hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails that connect with this bike path. To explore those trails I would strongly recommend getting a good map available online www.islandcountywa.gov/PublicWorks/Parks/Pages/Home.aspx
National Take a Hike Day is Sunday, Nov. 17, however, to make use of the bus which doesn't run on Sundays, we're celebrating on Saturday, Nov. 16. Meet us on the corner by Coupeville Elementary Saturday, 2:15-3:00 and Stroll or Roll the Kettles Trail!
Nov. 15 Book Signing in Anacortes
Join Jack Hartt, and other authors, for a brief presentation and book signing at Watermark Books in Anacortes 6-9pm Friday, Nov. 15. Also see Jack's latest book of photography, Skagit Colors. Get signed copies for special holiday gifts. Support local independent bookstores.