Sunday’s hike was to a new-to-us area, the Whidbey Institute, which is tucked away above the Maxwelton Valley on the south end of Whidbey Island. The privately held non profit land is host to 4 miles of trails, on 106 acres, that are open to the public to enjoy. This is a beautiful forest, to savor while hiking. We heard frogs, and an owl above us. It is alive with animals, birds, mushrooms and water. A true treat to visit.
The Institute provides maps at the trailhead in a mailbox, however it is easy to print one beforehand.
We turned in and drove down the well cared for road, passing the Waldorf school and couple side roads that have other hikes on them as well. The main parking lot is at the bottom part of the road, with well marked parking on both sides (trails are on both sides of the road). The road continues up a short bit to the main part as well.
Once parked, the trailhead is to the far right of the lot. Walk down a short distance to find the trail kiosk and maps.
The main trail is The WetlandsTrail, and it meanders along where a rain fueled creek babbled below us.
There are a couple trails that branch off, on both sides. Continue on the main trail.
The trail winds up the ridge, but never too steep. The forest is deep, with many large Douglas Firs, Hemlock, and Cedar trees. It can be a bit muddy, as the trail sits over clay in the ground.
The trail winds around the forest, then drops down into the Madrone Meadow, where cabins line the edge of the forest. Here the trail ends technically.
Cross the meadow, and join the cabin road, walk up a short distance to the upper cabins, and turn right. It is signed for the Labyrinth.
A short walk takes you to the labyrinth, where quiet walking lets the mind slip into a mediative state.
When done, look to the right where the other half of the Farm Loop Trail starts up.
This section walks the edge up high. The fog from Maxwelton Valley wrapped through the trees.
It felt like I was walking though a forest in the Olympic Mountains, rather than on an island.
The trail passes Sacred Ridge Trail, and then cuts a few good switchbacks, while loosing elevation. It ends back on Wetlands Trail, and take a left to head back. About 1¼ miles for the loop with gentle rolling elevation.
The Whidbey Institute is easily reached from the ferry on the south end of the island (Clinton). Follow the directions here once on the island.
Parking, and use of the trails is free. NO dogs allowed!
We had excellent T-Mobile cell service.