Hiking · Local Adventures

Local Adventures: Freund Marsh Trail (Part 1 Oak Harbor Waterfront Trail)

The Oak Harbor Waterfront Trail (or The Shoreline Trail) starts at the Scenic Heights Trailhead on Scenic Heights Street, just off of Hwy 20, on the outskirts of Oak Harbor, and ends at Maylor Point, in sight and along Oak Harbor the whole way. To make it easy, the walk can be broken up into a couple sections.

The first section is the Freund Marsh Trail, located in the heart of town. Opened in 2011, this section of unpaved trail is easy to hike, and is enjoyed by many. We parked at City Beach, er, I mean “Windjammer Park”. The city of Oak Harbor can call it Windjammer Park but to me it will always be City Beach. I graduated high school in Oak Harbor and spent a big chunk of my teen years at the park. There wasn’t much else to do back then (and there still isn’t). Oak Harbor has grown though, and there has been major changes to the park in recent years (the RV park was removed, it is parking and basketball courts now), the parking along the beach is easier to get to. The gazebos we hung out in as teens are gone, as is the iconic (but rotting) Dutch windmill. Even many trees are gone now. Still, the park has its charms and well, it is on the water, so there is that. It’s easy to access.

To get to the start, we turned off Hwy 20 onto Beeksma, and drove to park at the park. Walk and cross the road at one of the marked crosswalks and find the unpaved trail along Beeksma. Follow it to the start of the marsh trail.

The start has a park bench, a garbage can and dog poop bag dispenser. The wide path is smooth and easily walked. The cages are Garry Oaks, to let them grow before the deer eat them away. Long ago, the oak trees were what the city was named for. Many are gone, due to disease, age and housing. The city is trying though.

The trail has many signs, to stop and read. I used this hike as part of our homeschooling. Works for us. The park is in the distance.

The history of the marsh and the fields, and how they were used for farming for a very long time, when Whidbey Island was mostly agrarian.

The trail winds along, we could easily walk three across.

Wild roses were everywhere. The marsh is returning every year.

The trail turns towards the road (Bayshore), where there is a spot for one or two vehicles to park.

Inviting people to walk for health.

You can exit the trail here, cross the road and visit the new shops that have opened up in the past year (all chains of course, but hey, Starbucks has clean bathrooms!).

Back on the trail, the wild roses were walls of intense blooms.

Being a cool overcast day the bees were not very busy, but I can only imagine how it must buzz on a warm day!

The trail crosses over two tiny bridges, where water flows through the marsh.

This area was diked long ago, to make it into farmable land. The dike is still there.

In the more dry areas there are trails mowed into the fields, and are marked they are hiking paths. They ask you stay on them, and not wander into the fields however. They were mowing as we hiked.

The trail comes to the end, and passes apartment/condos on one side. At the top is the Scenic Heights trailhead, which has a couple parking spots, along with on road parking. Looking back at the marsh and fields.

At the trailhead is a number of signs to read about the history of the area.

It covers the history of the local native tribes who lived here first.

The Shoreline rail. The map isn’t quite to scale, but pretty none the less.

Here is the cool part of the trail. There sits a circle amphitheater, that if you stand in the middle your voice echos. Kids will love it.

Here we returned the way we came (though you could walk the fields as well on the way back), and they got a much anticipated visit to Starbucks. It’s a 60 mile round trip here, on our island, so it is rare they get that….you can walk back from Starbucks on sidewalks, right back to the park as well.

Trail is about 1/2 mile long each way, give or take. Elevation is….flat nearly. Do not rely on Google Maps to look at the land, it is out of date. The mapping on my phone was up to date, and shows all the new buildings.

Yes, we are that slow. Lots to look at!

Parking at all trailheads is free. Use of park is free. Leash your dogs and pickup their poop. There is garbage cans along the way to help with this. The trail does pass by private homes in one section. Is great for strollers and children trying to learn to bike.


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