South Whidbey State Park—Amble among ancient trees above the sound

Giant Douglas-Firs grace South Whidbey State Park

Giant Douglas-Firs grace
South Whidbey State Park

Quick Facts:

Location: Whidbey Island

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 2.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Contact: South Whidbey State Park

Notes: Discover Pass Required: Dogs must be leashed

Access: From the Clinton Ferry Terminal on Whidbey Island follow SR 525 north for 9.4 miles turning left onto Bush Point Road. After 2.2 miles road becomes Smugglers Cove Road. Continue for another 2.7 miles to South Whidbey State Park.

Good to Know: Dog-friendly, kid-friendly, exceptional old-growth

This state park has a lovely beach, but its best attribute is its 250-year old forest of massive cedars and Douglas-firs. One of the finest tracts of old-growth remaining on the Puget Sound shoreline, it was nearly logged in the 1970s. Locate the trailhead on the north side of Smugglers Cove Road and immediately come to a junction at a big Sitka Spruce. The trail left, the Wilbert Trail (named after the couple responsible for saving this forest) is your return. Head right on the Ridge Loop Trail. The way climbs, winding east under a lush canopy and through thickets of kinnikinnick and big boughs of ferns.

At .5 mile the trail swings west to utilize an old DNR road. With elevation gain now complete, enjoy nice easy walking. At 1.3 miles reach a junction.  Here the Ridge Loop heads left. You want to go right on the Fern Gully Trail descending into a dark draw of massive firs and spruces. After crossing a wet flat intersect the Wilbert Trail. But before returning left, strut right for a short distance to the “Giant Cedar,” a lone behemoth five centuries old. Read the plaque on the Wilberts whose “tree hugging” led to the preservation of this cedar and 255 acres of surrounding forest.

Then return right on the Wilbert Trail passing the Fern Gully and Ridge Loop junction and continuing through breathtakingly beautiful groves of ancient cedars and spruces. After a small climb, come to a monster Douglas-fir, quite possibly the biggest tree on Whidbey Island.  Continue a short distance to return to the trailhead.

For detailed information on this trail and many others on Whidbey and Camano Islands (as well as throughout western Snohomish County), pick up a copy of my brand new Urban Trails Everett (Mountaineers books). Urban Trails Seattle, Urban Trails Bellingham, Urban Trails Olympia and Urban Trail Kitsap are also available. Pick up a copy of one or more of these guides today and start exploring scores of close by trails!


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