Hiking · Local Adventures

Local Adventures: Ebey’s Loop

With Island County in Phase 3 now (of 4 phases in Washington State), the loop at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island was finally fully open, after having been closed for some time. However….it is still a bit tricky. First you have to walk by the guilt inducing signs passively aggressively telling you should go hike elsewhere, then once on the upper bluff, you have to go only one way. Which, on that part, I have no issues. The bluff is a narrow trail, and has always been an issue letting people pass you. It was actually nice to not have to scootch to the edge to let a train of people go by. Well, except for the one trail runner we watched do that.

Having said all this…..if you wish to hike this trail, go on a weekday and start EARLY. When we got there, the tiny parking lot was nearly empty. It requires a Wa State parking pass (Discover Pass). As we finished just before Noon, the lot was full and the road was packed with overflow cars. It wasn’t “Saturday at Ebey” levels (which have become horrible), but it was still bad. And the “overflow” area is along the bluff, above the beach, on an already narrow road.

A long time ago, when my oldest son was young, I often hiked the loop every week. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was then. It was lonely then, often I would see no one else, especially if it was winter. We’d go after I got off work, midday. I worked a mile away. It can still feel lonely, but times have changed and it is a hike people travel to do now. With the changes in ownership (into being protected lands) the side trails have been closed, and dissuaded from use.

If you start at Ebey’s Landing, head to the stairs that go up the bluff. Pop out onto the bluff, in a field and head uphill. You will come to a trail junction with the Prairie Ridge Trail, to the right. Stay straight and enter the Pratt Preserve, leaving the state park land behind. Ebey is an odd grouping of land – state park, Nature Conservancy, and the National Park.

Looking across the fields of the Pratt Preserve, and to Mount Baker in the distance, with Black Buttes in front, to the left side.

The boys heading up the bluff, to the top.

Looking back at Ebey’s Landing. Mount Rainier (Tahoma) is in the center, rising up above the water of the Salish Sea.

Alistaire and Walker on the bluff, looking across at the Olympic Mountains, and the shipping lanes.

On the bluff above Perego’s Lagoon. In the upper right, look for the Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle looking for breakfast.

Wild roses starting to bloom.

The joy of this hike is the bluff, walking on the edge most of the way, with nothing but views to take in.

Tahoma in the distance, rising above.

The switchbacks down to the beach have become narrow over time, and are overgrown. The lower half of the bluff was covered in invasive horsetail. I guess if it stabilizes the hillside?

When you reach the end, you can pop over to the beach, or better, find the path to the lagoon and walk the trail along it. It is less windy (a bonus in winter) and offers lots of logs to have a snack on.

I saw a purple star mylar balloon stuck in the driftwood, Walker got it free and we packed it out. Being purple….I have to wonder if it came from the high school in Oak Harbor (where I graduated from) as graduation was a week or so ago.

The switchbacks can be seen on the bluff. Further north Fort Ebey State Park is reachable by walking West Beach (I have done it, long ago).

The Olympic Mountains visible, peeking over the driftwood piles.

The lagoon section is a treat to enjoy.

Tahoma visible through the driftwood, where the lagoon trail stops. The trail takes you up and over the driftwood, and the rest of the hike is on the beach. It was a super low tide, the sand was packed and easy to walk. In winter the hike is on rocks, so summer is more enjoyable.

3¾ miles for the loop, according to my GPS. You will see different claims on mileage, but after having done it so many times, I’d agree with my charting of it. High elevation was 186 feet, starting and ending at sea level.

~Sarah

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