Digging through places on Whidbey Island my eyes caught a place I hadn’t visited before, the Freeland Wetland Preserve, which is part of the Whidbey Watershed Stewards. It is hidden on the edge of town, and easily missed if you don’t have a need to ever drive that way. Google will send you to the wrong place, so just drive slow and it is obvious where to turn into.
Take Highway 525 to Freeland, turn onto Main Street at the light by the Shell station, go by Payless Food, go through 2 4 way stop signs, and the road will turn into Scott Road on the east end, near Frontier Building Supply. From Scott Road turn left onto Newman Road. Look for the Freeland Wetland Preserve sign on the right, just past Southern Cross Too espresso stand. It is JUST past the turn onto Newman.
The driveway down into the preserve is steep, if you have a very low slung car it might be fun. However, there is lots of parking – and it is free to use. No permits needed. It’s an old farm driveway out of a field I would guess.
Find a trail kiosk to the right, with information about the site.
The main visuals are a large picnic table and an old barn. There isn’t any information or signs on what to expect for trails (but I’ll fill you in!).
We wandered down to the barn, where we saw a path going into the very boggy woods (wetland very much so!), on the left side of the barn.
Real trail? I am thinking it is an animal trail, but with humans using it. Could be wrong. It did though provide excellent home schooling material, talking about forest succession, and how the wetlands kill trees over time. It is full of dead/dying Alder trees and many Cedar trees that are in their fading years.
We walked till it petered out, and turned back.
We went back to the barn and walked around the back and along the woods, when we saw an obvious pole by an equally obvious trail going into the woods. If you look to your right you will see the prettily colored bright cottages, on private land.
The path walks into the forest, and is on noticeably drier land.
Leading the way.
Not far down come to trail signs. To the left is “Pond Trail” which is a short hike out to the wetlands. It is however wrapped with caution tape. Kirk asked them via email what was up…an Alder had been hanging over the trail and they were concerned. I got to let them know the tree had broken, and was across the trail (it’s not tall, easily stepped over). Alders turn into snags when dead and fall very easily in wind – and we had a huge wind storm a few weeks ago. The other sign is for “Cedar Trail” and is the main trail. It is a loop trail. It is mostly easily to follow, though watch in the areas with copses of Cedar trees as you might not see where the trail curves. Minimal elevation gain, but watch roots, and there are a few short areas that you have to walk downhill on.
I always seem to see tree men. Do you?
The trail winds down and comes to a wooden bench, and then another bench, both in open forest, with a view into the wetland area.
Two happy brothers, in the magical woods. Better to spend it here, than in a room on a computer, no? I prefer this homeschooling gig, even as trying as it can be.
The trail winds on through the open forest and comes up to the trail having caution tape in front of it – this is where the Cedar Trail connects back, up the Pond Trail. I looked up and around, and not seeing anything of concern, besides the broken tree in the trail, we hoofed the few feet of trail quickly and popped back out. Then just an easy hike back to the car.
A real treat to find, hidden in town, it’s both a hike and an educational outing.