I have been trying to complete the trails in Trillium Community Forest, and had wanted to do a one way up and over, of the Trillium Ridge north of Freeland, on the south end of Whidbey Island. Timing has always been an issue, and in the fall/early winter Trillium is shut down for the deer hunting seasons for many weeks. With Monday having been a day off of school for the boys and a pleasant sunny day in the low 50’s, we quickly fit the hike in the afternoon. I knew that on the 14th this month the forest would be closed again for the next season*, so we needed to do it now.
We did 3.34 miles, of which about half a mile was from our house to the trailhead.
The boys and the dog walked with me to the Bounty Loop Trailhead, where we started the hike on Bounty trail (also part of the Level Loop). The hike up Bounty is fast. We hooked a left on Crossroads. Crossroads goes uphill, but the way is gentle, and the trail is wide. The trail comes to an open area, and is a 4 way trail junction. Take a right onto Patrick’s Way.
Patrick’s Way ambles uphill, coming into a few open areas, that were once road junctions. You can spot many old roads that have yet to be converted into trails, that go off into the trees.
Another clearing as we gently walked uphill along Patrick’s Way.
The land was clear cut in its worst moment, before the land was bought and preserved. The trees have been slowly coming back, though the Alders are are getting old in some areas. But behind them Cedar, Douglas Fir and Hemlock are coming up strong. The forest in many areas has a healthy amount of Salal and Evergreen and Red Huckleberry plants. What one doesn’t see is Madrona trees, however it is far too damp up there for their dry loving roots.
As for ridge traversing, it isn’t a simple up and over. The trail winds up and down, and around.
The trail pops out at a junction. Under a big leaf maple tree is a memorial bench to Patrick, for his love of the forest here.
Pepper, Alistaire, and Walker.
We turned left onto Smugglers trail. It starts off going uphill (really??) and then starts the downhill ramble finally. This trail is popular now due to the newer parking lot on Smugglers Cove Road. It is also horse friendly, as trailers are allowed to be parked there (the lot is easy to drive through). As you drop down suddenly the double track (read “road”) trail suddenly becomes single track, actual trail trail. The map shows a trail to the left, it is now closed and has baby trees planted in it to restore it.
The final quarter mile is actual trail, with roots and rocks to navigate, but it also has some of the prettiest forest on the ridge. Two boys are tucked into the trees. The forest is very similar here to South Whidbey State Park, which is just a a few short miles down the road.
*Hunting season dates for deer are:
October 12 – 31, 2019
November 14 – 17, 2019
November 27 – December 27, 2019
During these times no other use is allowed, so plan accordingly. Only a few more days are left for hiking till the first of the new year.
Parking: Both Bounty Trailhead and Smugglers Cove Trailhead are free to use, and require no parking passes.
Sunset comes early on the ridge, and you will have low visibility after 4 pm in fall/winter.
Dogs are allowed, but remember that the ridge is home to many coyotes, leashes are a very good idea.
Cell phone service is good on the eastern (Bounty) side and on top of the ridge, but bad down low near Smugglers Cove Road.