Looking for a March walk? Head to Whidbey Island's west side, where three waterfront parks offer walks, views and local history.
Eager for springtime and looking for a walk? Waterfront parks on Whidbey Island make perfect day trips from the Seattle area. Here’s a look at three on the west side of the island:
The secluded Double Bluff county park is the perfect place to walk with (or without) your pooch. A 2-mile strip of sandy beach runs along the base of the 300-foot bluff and has a large, designated off-leash area for dogs, starting about 500 feet from the parking lot. Fido can splash blissfully in the water while you enjoy a walk. Driftwood smothers the beach — and kids of all ages construct elaborate driftwood forts.
Watch for wildlife. You might come across a jellyfish washed ashore or catch a glimpse of bald eagles, falcons and great blue herons. “It’s just so full of life in all forms and just quiet and surreal and peaceful,” said islander Melissa O’Neill.
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The day-use park has a few benches; small, grassy picnic area; a restroom; and, if you’re not so fond of dogs, a canine-free section of beach.
Getting there: Double Bluff is a mile south of Freeland on southern Whidbey Island. From the ferry landing at Clinton (the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry route serves the island) go north on Highway 525 and turn south onto Double Bluff Road, marked with a small yellow sign. In a few minutes the road dead-ends at the beach. Parking is available in a lot that holds about 25 vehicles. Visitors also park along the road.
More information: See www.co.island.wa.us/publicworks/parks (click on “South Whidbey Parks”).
For information on off-leash areas on Whidbey, including Double Bluff, see www.fetchparks.org.
A rich piece of history, this 467-acre park — with almost 2 miles of Admiralty Inlet shoreline — is named after the well-preserved Fort Casey coast artillery post that it contains. The 19th-century U.S. Army fort is a 300-foot long concrete structure that’s been disused for decades.
Walk through old fire-control stations; explore ammunition-supply rooms; and walk down a creaky staircase into dark, echoing bunkers. Kids will love standing atop the fort, imagining what it might have been like looking for enemy ships.
Fort Casey was constructed in 1890 as a part of a “triangle of fire” along with two other forts — Fort Worden near Port Townsend and Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island — to protect the entrance to Puget Sound from a sea invasion that never came. (The fort’s barracks and officers’ houses now are part of the Camp Casey Conference Center run by Seattle Pacific University.)
A short walk from the fort is Admiralty Head Lighthouse, built in 1903 (it replaced an earlier lighthouse). The lighthouse guided ships until 1922, when it was decommissioned, and now is an interpretive center and gift shop. Walk the spiral staircase to the pinnacle for striking views of Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Trails wind along the bluff. Or walk the beach and picnic along it or in the park’s grassy areas.
Getting there: Fort Casey is three miles south of Coupeville, near the Coupeville ferry terminal (also known as the Keystone ferry terminal). From the Clinton ferry terminal, go north on Highway 525 and follow signs to the Coupeville (Keystone) ferry terminal on the west side of the island. Pass the ferry parking lot and take the first entrance to the left.
More information: See www.parks.wa.gov/parks. Visitors pay to park at Fort Casey State Park; $10 for a day pass or use the state parks’ $30 annual Discover Pass. There is a small campground at Fort Casey.
Fort Ebey State Park
What was once a coastal defense fort built during World War II is now a wooded 645-acre park along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Walk the beach — the park has 3 miles of saltwater shore. Or roam on miles of hiking trails and bike routes. For a scenery fix, take the Bluff Trail for sweeping views of waterways and the Olympic Mountains. Or take the Old Gun Battery Trail to explore the little that’s left of the gun-battery outpost — concrete platforms marking the original gun emplacements.
If you’re a little more ambitious, the Kettles Trail — with access to 15,000-year-old land depressions left by ice-age glaciers — will lead you out of Fort Ebey State Park into several miles of hiking and biking trails in the adjoining Kettles Trails county park and onward to the nearby town of Coupeville.
Visitors may see deer nibbling alongside park trails or harbor seals resting on the beach (don’t disturb them).
The park offers picnic tables and, for those who want more than a day trip, 50 campsites.
Getting there: Fort Ebey State Park is two miles north of Coupeville. From the ferry landing at Clinton, go north on Highway 525, which becomes Highway 20. Turn left on Libbey Road and follow it about 1.5 miles to Hill Valley Drive and turn left to the park entrance. Parking requires a $10 day pass or $30 annual Discover Pass.
More information: www.parks.wa.gov/parks/
For the Kettles Trail system (which runs outside the park), see www.islandcounty.net/publicworks/trailsmain.htm.