Hiking · Local Adventures

Local Adventures: PNT-Bluff Trail Loop

Heading out early on Saturday morning for a hike before farm chores awaited us, I picked out a loop at Fort Ebey State Park, of which half the trails I had not hiked before. It was a thigh burner as well. Where you’d swear the trail goes uphill most of the way…hah. But that is the joy of The Kettles Trail System. Go into one (a kettle), you must climb back out. Kettles were impressions carved out in the last ice age by the glaciers that buried the island.

We parked at the beach access area off of the Beach Road in Fort Ebey State Park. When you enter the park, go past the entrance station, and take a right at the T stop. Follow the road downhill till you come to the curve and can see the beach. If no parking, continue on a short bit, where the larger parking is, as are public (flushing) restrooms, water, and picnic tables.

Look here for a trail map.

Having a printed or digital saved version of the map really comes in handy, especially when the trails are close together.

Cross the road from the beach parking area to find a trail going into the forest. Take this one.

Just a short bit down the trail come to this sign. Take a right onto the trail (if you continue straight it will take you to the upper parking lot).

The PNT wanders through Fort Ebey State Park and this loop you will hike two sections of it. This is part of Section 8 (which ends on Whidbey Island at the Coupeville Ferry, and then enters Section 9 in the Olympics).

This section crosses on boardwalk over a boggy, water filled section, then pulls up quick, up the low ridge.

It’s a pleasant walk.

Looking down at Pondilla Lake. The trail ends and comes to a junction.

Turn right onto The Old Park Entrance Road (left leaves the park and goes into housing). The road section is short, and dead ends at the Beach Road.


We took a left onto Kyle’s Kettle trail, which starts out quite narrow.

It tops out and goes around a low ridge, and becomes a normal trail fast enough.

We decided to take Grandpa Tree Trail, which is a loop as well. Let’s just say if you needed thigh day, this is it. It goes down, down and down, then back up. Not a bad trail, but I probably won’t do it again.

It comes to a massive Douglas Fir (for the state park), with a lot of Stinging Nettles around. It then levels, then drops down to meet back up Kyle’s Kettle.

Since I was needing punishment, we continued on with Kyle’s. Up it went, down it went, into a valley, then back up, crossing a ridge, where the trail became dry. Finally it reached the main road into the park, above the entrance station. We crossed the road and jigged down a tiny bit to Raider Creek. This trail is a main line and wide, follow it a bit, then take a right onto Braveheart and up, up, and up you go. At the next junction, for Watertower Trail, curve right.

The old water tower pops out of the woods, looking very gothic.

Look up and see the rotting timbers. See Salala growing at the top of it.

It’s a real charmer though. I hadn’t been back in this section for at least 20 years, and it hasn’t changed much.

I am always fascinated when I visit places humans have quit using. Decay is interesting.

We came to the end of the trail, and crossed the park road (this is the road, where at the entrance station T stop, you take a left. It goes to the gun battery and campground).

The trail across the road goes to the bicyle and hiker campground (no cars), that is tucked into the woods. Walk through it, and take a left onto the Old Gun Battery Trail (it was a road when the park was a fort).

It heads to the Gun Battery parking lot and the open meadows. Find a bathroom (it’s a pit toilet though), water and picnic tables.

The views of the Olympic Mountains and the Salish Sea are a payoff. We took a short break, then got back hiking.

Look for the trail just before the bluff, marked Beach Trail. Going North.

A few feet down, go thru a gate that is marked for the PNT as well. The Bluff Trail goes directly back to the parking lot at the beach.

While walking Alistaire noticed a Wa State ferry crossing the Salish Sea.

I couldn’t read which one it was, but it was being sent up to Anacortes on Fidalgo Island, for the San Juan Islands run I would assume. This is the time of year when they bring up the bigger ferry for it.

The trail drops quite a bit and near the end you can access one of the walk in cliff thingies.

The view from inside, looking out at the Salish Sea and the Olympic Mountains.

A short walk later and pass the Coast Guard lighthouse of Partridge Point.

The trail quickly winds down to the beach parking area. Here you can access the rocky beach with a short walk out.

Fort Ebey requires a Wa State Discover Pass.


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