When I lived on Whidbey Island years ago, one of my favorite places to visit was Joseph Whidbey State Park. Most people visit it using the pull out alongside West Beach Road. The park is closed during the fall and winter months, so this is one reason why. During warmers months, the main entrance is open, and one can drive in. There are a couple looping trails upland, which are short (great for children), however the real beauty is the beach, though it is short.
The park sits next to the NAS Whidbey Naval Station, so on some days you can get great viewpoints of planes. However, this should also be noted that if the Sound of Freedom bothers you, you might want a different place to walk. Like on a different island. I lived under the flight path for 13+ years so it doesn’t bother me. Having said that, it was a glorious cold Fall morning and was socked in fog. Which I love to hike in.
On the beach I spotted Grindelia Integrifolia, growing in the area between high tide and driftwood. It’s a native plant, and flowers long. It’s a special treat to see it into late October. The warm days this month has helped it along. It’ll fade in the coming days.
Because. Beach time. It heals the soul. A little invigorating cold wind is good as well.
Mostly it brings back memories, of when my oldest was younger than his youngest brother. We’d go to the beach a few times a week, often after I got off work. I worked as a barista, in an espresso shop. I was free by 10 or 11 in the morning, so we’d go have fun, and this beach was one of our favorites.
A long time ago, maybe 17 years ago, I walked Padilla Bay Trail, when my oldest son was around 3 years old. It isn’t a long trail, but it’s a long haul to hike it. We were in the area yesterday, and I on an impulse decided the two younger boys and I would hike it, before the sun set.
The trail has 2 trailheads, north and south. In most cases, it’s an in and out trail, unless you have someone to pick you up (or 2 cars). There is other trails in the area, and an interpretive center nearby, so one can make a full day of it. We were dropped off at the South Trailhead, and walked to the North one.
The trail is built on the dike that keeps out the salt water, from the Skagit farmland (and yes, some of it is reclaimed land). The trail is in amazing shape now, and every 1/8 mile is marked . Great for encouraging children to move quickly.
The main focal point for the first bit of trail is the trail snaking around the slough and farmland, and the old barn in the distance.
The tide was relatively low as we walked.
The barn was still standing, but parts I remembered all those years ago, lay rotting in the mud flats next to it.
The view is across Padilla Bay, and out towards the San Juan Islands.
As you pass the 1 mile mark, the views change, and you look towards the homes that fringe above the farmland. The boys and I watched hundreds of geese flying above us, going South.
A Heron flew in, and landed on the grass island. Across the way is Fidalgo Island, and the peak is Mt. Erie, the highest spot on the island. Fidalgo Island is where the ferry is, for heading to the San Juan Islands and onto Victoria, B.C.
I miss this area. I lived on an island for about 13 years, and spent a few more in Skagit County, not far from here. It’s quieter. It’s agricultural and the beach is never far away.
Near the end, the trail dips down to an almost beach, where rocks protect the dike. The boys happily threw rocks in the water, until I encouraged them to move.
One way it is 2.2 miles (plus the walk up to the trailhead parking). It’s great for walking, biking and especially strollers. The halfway point has benches, a picnic table and even a garbage can. It’s a very kid friendly hike.