Hiking · Local Adventures

Local Adventures: Pondilla Lake

Long ago, when my oldest was just a toddler, we hiked the entire Kettles Trails System in and around Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island. It was local hiking, that we did in the cold months. Back then, it wasn’t heavily used, and no one cared I was pushing a kid in an off road jogger stroller. In the hiking of the 30+ miles of trails (then), I rarely encountered anyone. It’s a lot busier these days, with Whidbey Island being Seattle’s Staycation Destination……but it’s still easy to be alone.

Ford, sitting by one of the many entrances into the Kettles. And you ask…”what is a kettle?”. It is what was left behind by the glaciers when they retreated long ago, leaving deep holes. The Kettles Trails System follows these, some of the trails even go down deep where the sun rarely hits. The area sits in Central Whidbey Island.

I’ve decided to rehike the Kettles Trails System with the boys this fall and winter, and revisit it after nearly 20 years of not hiking in it. It almost feels new at this point! Hoping we will have many more trips to post here.

We were attending a class at the park (more below on that), and got tp the park early to do a hike. Work out the wiggles…..

Find the map here.

I picked the bluff trail to Pondilla Lake loop, as it is the farthest hike North/West in the park, and up by itself. It’s also not exactly marked, but you won’t get lost. On the map above, it is in yellow, on the upper left corner. We started where it says “Beach Access” .

The hike starts from the lowest parking area (above the beach access, as the road goes around a curve). There is also more parking up higher in a loop by the bathrooms. The trail starts in the picnic table areas and winds along the bluff.

Rose Hips.

A forest of Bull Kelp in the Salish Sea, and the Olympic Mountains shrouded in the distance. The trail here does go down to the beach, if you wish, or instead turn back towards the woods.

Heading down the steep but short trail to Pondilla Lake.

Pretty rock on tree, in the forest.

Picnic table in lake. How this got here….who knows. Pondilla Lake, which is very much an old glacial kettle.

We headed back up to the main trail and then headed across, above the lake. The trail winds back down to the lake.

At a clearing in the forest, there is 4 trails (the one you came in on) and 2 branches off to the lake for views.

The boys.

To finish the loop, head down the 4th branch of trail. You will pass a trail to the right, heading uphill. This takes you up to the bathrooms quickly. You can also take the main trail and it winds to the parking lot as well.

The boys and I took a class sponsored by the Whidbey Island Arts Council and Sound Water Stewards, on Seaweed Science and Nature Journaling. I really enjoyed this class, seaweed is an area I don’t know very well, but I now do. The boys have been working on nature journaling in their homeschooling this fall as well.

The Salish Sea and a lone surfer out in the water.

The highlight was getting a copy of the new 3rd edition of Getting To The Water’s Edge, a local guide to public access to water in Island County, Washington. I had an old copy of the second edition, which was out of date. This guide has been huge for me to know how I can access places legally on the island.


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