Stick! Ball! Treat! What a treat to meet some friends, and their dog, for a walk at Double Bluff. We weren’t alone. The tide was out and the scene was set for a lot of people, and their canine companions, to splash, streak or stroll for miles on the wide, sandy beach of Useless Bay. On this bright, winters day we could see the skyscrapers of Seattle dwarfed by the ominous presence of Mount Rainier standing tall on the horizon.
It seemed everyone had brought dogs or children with them. Some brought both. The off leash dog area was a frolic with four legged friends bounding into the water after a ball or a stick and then a full body shake onshore. Then ready to go again, and again and again! With every new dog’s approach there was a ceremonial meet and greet, sniffing, circling, and if they were amenable, chasing each other full tilt across the sand.
Toddlers, too, seemed just as joyous to be splashing, digging, strutting along by their folks. Children played near the water with shovels, buckets and sticks, stepping in gingerly with their bright colored boots. One brave young lass in a bathing suit took her miniature paddle board to the water’s edge, took two steps in and sprang back in a quick retreat. Most of us wore warm coats and hats with no plans for a swim.
A woman with long, golden hair played with two golden retrievers. Another had an elegant and energetic “white” golden. They splashed into the water chasing a ball time and time again. There were larger dogs like a husky-malamute mix, a Pyrenees mix, and a Saint Bernard with its huge head and gentle nature. There were various hounds, sleek and slender, streaking along the shore. Little lap dogs followed close to their owners. A trio of Labradoodles socialized with everyone they passed. Being out among the dogs, the people and the mid-winter sun brought a smile to my face.
Besides the off-leash dog park, Double Bluff has some interesting features like the driftwood houses and the ten-foot tall, family sized beach chair. With binoculars, I saw a raft of surf scoters, buffleheads, and a few harlequin ducks. And there are glacial erratics exposed at low tide. Under the outside edge we could see muscles and barnacles clinging to the rock. Near the top of the largest rock a friend pointed out a fossilized fern. Fossils put things in perspective connecting us with ancient life and hinting at how our planet is constantly changing. It reminded me that, even in these tumultuous times, “This too, shall pass.”
As our walk continued the sandy bluff loomed large on one side. Parts of the bluff had sluffed off in recent storms and was clearly unstable so we stayed well away. Nearing the end of Useless Bay we could see the Olympic Mountains to the west, with craggy peaks jutting above the clouds. The afternoon had flown by and now the sun was low.
Someone shouted, “Look, a sun dog!” and pointed to the sky. Like a dog following its owner, the sun dog, follows the sun as it nears the horizon. Light refracting through ice crystals in the air, make rainbows around the sun, and added sparkle to our day. The rippled clouds at the top of the bluff mirrored the rippled sand on the beach below.
We turned around at the corner and made our way back. The beach was shaded now. The air grew chill. Still Double Bluff had been a welcome walk on a sunny day at low tide with plenty of room for everyone, and their dogs.
PS Please bring a bag and pick up after your pet. Thank you!
For more information on Double Bluff County Park click here.
Directions: From the stoplight in Freeland, take Highway 525 south 1.3 miles, turn south onto Double Bluff Road and drive almost 2 miles to the end. Parking is limited. If the parking lot is full you may park along the road, but make sure your tires are outside the fog line. Look out for car doors opening and pedestrians walking in the road between their vehicle and the park. At the park entrance there are restrooms, picnic tables and a paw washing station. The address is 6325 Double Bluff Road.
Bus and Bike: Fare-free Island Transit bus route 1 stops at the intersection of Highway 525 and Double Bluff Road. It’s less than 2 miles to the park. Two or three bikes fit on each bus bike rack provided on a first come, first served basis. Double Bluff Road is almost flat and has a good shoulder for cyclists.
Mobility: After you climb over the initial logstacle course, this beach is mostly sandy at low tide. If the tide is high, you may be restricted to beach logs and cobble stones.
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