Central Whidbey Island is the middle of the vast island, usually considered from the borders of the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve to just below the village of Greenbank here in Washington State. Give or take. Some would argue this, and I am cool with that 😉 It always includes the small, but bustling, town of Coupeville, which is Island County’s seat. If you have a chance to visit, it has 2 state parks, miles of public beaches, and a great town to have a post-hike lunch in, along the waterfront of Penn Cove. Or a hot latte to warm the soul back up in winter, after walking in the cold prairie winds.
Fort Casey State Park. Of the 2 state parks in this area, Fort Casey is the one most visit. For good reason! It is home to a vast historical fort that is open to exploring. Some of the fort has been sealed off (I remember as a kid, and even as a young adult being able to go much farther in and down into it), but there is so much to see. The park has beach access, a historical lighthouse that is open often, and a campground on the beach, right by a ferry dock. It sits exposed, so wear a hat, gloves and a jacket if you are not used to the cold winds. The park is very kid friendly, however keep an eye on bluffs and on the ramparts on the fort. This is a historical fort, and the stairs have nearly no handrails and are exposed.
Wa Discover pass required.
Admiralty Inlet Preserve Trails – not well-known yet, but oh they should be! This protected area sits between Fort Ebey State park/Ebey’s Landing and Fort Casey State Park. It is accessible nearly year round and the trails are nearly flat, weaving in and out of meadows/fields and forest, alongside or near the bluffs. Birds are often visible and the trails are for the most part away from the road and well-marked.
Free to use.
Pratt Preserve Loop Trail. This newer trail is found above the pioneer cemetery near Ebey’s Landing. You can do the loop and then continue on to do Ebey’s Landing for a longer hike. This is a great hike for young families! Most of the hike is in open meadow/field with amazing views of the mountain peaks and the water, with historical buildings to check out.
Free to use, if you park at the cemetery.
Fort Ebey State Park and the Kettle Trail System. When I first started hiking, long ago, this is where I learned to hike. The Kettle system is half state park, half county land. It’s free to park along Highway 20 in the parking pullouts, and walk into the park. It’s bike friendly overall, with over 30 miles of trails. The trails range from easy to breaking a sweat. The easy ones like the mainline, Kettle Trail, which starts in downtown Coupeville and follows the highway, then into the park, all the way to the water, is a great one for kids. The trails inside the park are also best choices for children. The county section is where one will encounter bikes.
Free if you park along the highway, or in town at the park and ride. Discover Pass required if you park in the state park.
Ebey’s Landing. It’s a busy place in season. Go in the middle of winter, with a storm brewing off the Olympic Mountains, and you might see no one else. You might also get a free dermabrasion from the salt water and wind. While the bluff trail up high is not a young child friendly hike (although my oldest hiked it with me all the time), the lower half of the loop, along the beach and the lagoon is wonderful for even the youngest. Do be careful in winter with the tide.
Parking in the small lot on the beach requires a Discover Pass, but there is at times parking along the road. Personally I like parking at the cemetery and doing the loop that way. That is fee free.