Sunday, August 12, 2012

Whidbey Island - Ebey's Landing

Trails: Bluff Trail => Beach Trail

This is a great hike if you want a nice 2-3 hour hike with almost 100% views. This hike is detailed in one of my go-to hiking books. Its probably one of my all time favorite hikes in the Puget Sound - and makes for a great time if you are staying or camping on Whidbey.

Note - this is hike is near (but not connected to) Fort Ebey State Park and Campground. You need to drive to Ebey's Landing (5 minutes south from the campground) to access this hike. There really is no easy trail connecting the two areas.

The parking lot is fairly small and requires a Discover Pass for parking. It appears there is also free street parking just past the parking lot. The area is mainly a beach area, so you will see other folks enjoying this very nice beach. There is a rest room near the parking lot - but no water.

Just walk straight past the rest room to find the start of the trail route. You may be temped to simply walk along the beach, but trust me its worth taking the hillside Bluff Trail for some great views of the area.

The Bluff trail heads up a set of stairs up to the top of the hillside. The stairs are in "ok" shape, but be careful as you dont want to twist your ankle before you get to enjoy the views.

After climbing the stairs, you pop right up on farmland (Ebey's Prairie) with a grassy two track trail leading up toward the top of the bluff. Be sure to turn around from time to time to see the sometimes colorful farm landscape - plus on clear days you can see Mt Baker in the distance.

As the trail leads up, there is an optional side trip heading to the right that leads to the Sunnyside Cemetery. This is a side trip that adds almost 2 more miles to the time. I choose to skip it since it was such a nice clear day and the views of the Sound were outstanding.

Past this intersection you enter the Robert Y Pratt Preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. This  is the steepest uphill section of the hike. You will see a number of folks get to the top of this ridge and turn around back to the parking lot.

The rest of the Bluff Trail is a single track narrow path, a bit over grown at the moment. As you round the bend you will begin to see Perego's Lagoon. As the hike continues, you may start to wonder how does this trail go downhill and get access to the beach - dont worry - it does, eventually.

After what seems like a fairly long time, the trail does offer a couple of paths down to the beach. One way is basically straight down, the other is a zig-zag down the hill with a couple of short-cuts and intersections. The zig-zag route looks a bit deceptive -- like it doesnt go down. Its a bit confusing, but in the end all the trails wind up down at the beach.

From the bottom of the trail to the water is mostly sand dunes - you will get sand in your shoes.

There is a trail that goes closer to the lagoon, but most folks walk along the beach side to enjoy the views and the lapping water of the Sound. Normally I hike at a fairly quick pace, but on this hike you want to take your time. Its not a long hike, but offers some solitude and great views of the Sound including Port Townsend and the Olympics. You may even see the Victoria Clipper making its way to Victoria.

I saw a couple groups of folks on the hike on a Friday afternoon - I suspect during Saturday/Sunday it might be more busy. On the weekdays its probably very empty.

After nearly 2 miles of beach walking, you reach the parking lot and the end of the hike.

Probably one of the best hikes I have done in a while - and so far the best Island/Beach hike I have ever done. If you are staying at nearby Fort Ebey Campgrounds, you can drive here in 5 minutes. It offers a better experience in some ways over the hikes within Fort Ebey.

Ebey's Landing at EveryTrail

Area - Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve (Whidbey Island - near Coupeville,Washington)
Trails - (Trail Map - not the best, better map in this hiking book)
Length - 3.7 mile loop - Two-hour moderate hike (Elevation gain in the begining of the hike, with a semi-steep decline)
Trail - Loop, dirt/beach trail, narrow in parts. Bluff trail is very sunny
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - Extreme views on the Bluff trail and on the beach
Getting There - From Seattle, take the ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton. Head north on highway 525/WA 20 just past Coupeville, turn Left on Ebey Road, follow it straight toward the water. Check out the crop signs on the side of the road noting the crops currently planted
Fee- Discover Pass Required for parking