A Weekend on Whidbey Island
Four State Parks, a Ferry and Two Lighthouses
As part-time wanderers, we often find ourselves looking for last minute plans for the weekend. This past weekend was no exception; no decided upon plans until Thursday when we found The Kite Festival scheduled for Saturday and Sunday on Whidbey Island. As it happened, we had not visited 4 of the five state parks on the island, so Whidbey became our weekend destination.
Hoping to camp, we scoured the state park websites for a camping space, no luck. We were determined to make the trip, so we reserved lodging at The Coachman Inn. As soon as Friday’s workday was complete, our bags were packed, and we hit the road. Our journey took place during evening rush hour, so our 2 ½ hour trip took about 3 ½ hours. After such a long day, we simply checked into our room, got comfortable and settled in for the night.
Well rested and looking forward to the day, we ventured out to breakfast at the nearby Island Cafe. A family style place with noisy chatter, clanking dishes, and aromas of coffee mingled with delicious breakfast fare; Island Cafe was just what we wanted. Nourished and caffeinated, we were ready to explore.
Our first stop was Fort Casey Historical State Park. The Kite Festival was already in progress on our arrival. We gazed at the vivid colors and varieties of kites from outside the roped perimeter, then made our way down to the shoreline. Looking out on the Admiralty Inlet, we could spot the other two points that made up the Triangle of Fire; Fort Flagler and Fort Worden. Walking along the waterline, the sound of pebbles being tumbled over one another in the ebb and flow of the waters was meditative and restorative. The breeze off the water was fresh and inviting.
Trails were leading up and over the hill, so we followed it along the rising bluff. We had fantastic views from higher up over the water. Large swathes of bull kelp could be seen in the swirling currents. The sturdy kelp made for impromptu islands for the seabirds in the area, who took respite on them. Here and there the sleek head of a harbor seal would peak out of the water for a look around. We followed the trail to the Admiralty Head Lighthouse and ventured to the top. Many visitors were touring the lighthouse, so we did not stay long. We continued and explored the old bunkers and batteries that were open to us, until making our way back to our vehicle. There were quite a few more kites and many more people at the festival, but we had more parks to visit, so off we went.
Our next stop was Fort Ebey State Park. A trail from the parking lot lead us past some picnic tables and to the beach. A shoreline filled with large sections of driftwood were piled to and fro. The tide appeared to be coming in as small waves pushed further in and with more force. We walked along the shore and over tree trunks combing the rocky sands for curiosities.
Back up the trail, we found more bunkers and batteries. Using the lights on our phones, we explored the dark, chilly interiors of these human-made concrete caverns. We found our way back to the trail and followed it along the bluff and through the forest. There is a great trail system here and even bike trails, all well maintained and well marked. We looped around the Waterline, Bluff and the Hokey Ka Dodo Trails and back to the parking area. We still had one more park on our list for today.
When we pulled into the parking area of Joseph Whidbey State Park, two bunnies were nibbling on grass immediately ahead of us. We exited the Jeep and followed the path down to the shore. There were signs for the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail, which leads right past the park. Again, we explored the shoreline and noted more bunnies nibbling in fine bunny fashion on the grass near the picnic shelter. This stop was a quick look around and back on the road. It was late afternoon, we were hungry, so food then back to our room was the order of operations for the remainder of this day.
Sunday we awoke, packed and checked out of our room. We still needed to visit South Whidbey State Park, so that is where we went. The beach trail was closed due to a washout, so we followed the Forest Discovery Trail. A pleasant stroll through the forest with peek-a-boo shots of the water is the easiest description of the path. It was windy and chilly with the threat of rain from the gloomy skies. The wind showered us in pine needles and leaves along the way and gave a decidedly Fall feel to this short hike.
We decided to make our way back through Mukilteo and stop off at the lighthouse. This route required a short ferry ride with the line to board the ferry taking longer than the actual ride. An uneventful ride with few views since there were wind and light rain, we only briefly got out of the Jeep to have a look. Mukilteo Lighthouse Park is an almost immediate right upon exiting the ferry. A well-preserved lighthouse with keeper and assistant keeper houses flanking either side of the light tower are here for viewing. We took the journey to the top and outside to take in the views. The rain and wind did not allow us to see far, but it was still a treat.
Even last minute, without much planning, we found plenty to do on Whidbey Island. Ample coastline, parks, festivals, trails, forts, lighthouses, and plenty of spots to eat and stay, Whidbey Island made for a comfortable and fun getaway.
Follow along on our wanderings around the Pacific Northwest.
The only thing better would be being there yourself!
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