I have often felt that a town can be ranked upon it’s paths. Is the town easy to walk? Can you get around safely? Does it lead from housing to public areas and parks?
Many towns do not have this, and suffer for it. When people have to walk on roads or simply cannot walk at all because it is so unsafe, the town has failed the citizens and visitors. While sidewalks are great, paths are a great option to tie a town together.
In the small village of Coupeville, Washington on Whidbey Island this has been done well. The town has 3 prominent parts: the flat land where the day to day business and schools are – they are served by sidewalk and 2 parts of a paved trail (The Kettle Trail and Rhododendron Trail), with a bridge over the highway to connect it to the second part, the main part of town – with the hospital, jail, courts and such, all with sidewalks. The third part of the town is the historical by-the-sea where the tourists mill to (it is the town used in the movie Practical Magic. I worked in Coupeville when that film was shot.) While the tourist area has sidewalks, the town has an extensive trail/path system to connect the tourist area with the Coupeville Town Park on one end, and all the way to public beach access and the Price Sculpture Forest. This allows a wide range of things to see and enjoy. Car free and safely away from cars.
That is what makes a town livable and vistable.
To start this adventure, if you can, park at the Rec Hall building in the middle of it, or 2 blocks away by the Coupeville Library (free for both options). Head for the historical wharf (which is where the public bathrooms are located in the old town).
At the Wharf, if you look to your left you will see a path heading uphill. It goes by the museum.
This path heads uphill to the Coupeville Town Park and has lovely views of Penn Cove and the Wharf. Mt. Baker is visible on sunny days.
The path is wide (and on Google Maps is marked as a road, though it isn’t).
The trail is short and quick and comes out into the amply shaded park, where a childen’s playground awaits, as does the grandstand area.
It is home to cool grass to take naps on, public bathrooms and a neat outdoor kitchen plus so many picnic tables.
Head back down to the wharf and walk on the sidewalks in the historical district and enjoy looking at the many shops.
One of the neatest things in awhile is the brand new parklet put into a side road. No longer will it have cars clogging it. Instead it encourages pedestrians to walk the town. And to rest if they wish.
It’s a great way to use an uphill street.
This coming weekend is the annual Arts and Crafts Festival so it will be enjoyed a lot I am sure.
As the sidewalk ends on the water side, a path is ahead. Hop up to it and continue on. It continues along Front St, now in a residential area. The town deer wander as they wish.
Looking down at the Coupeville Wharf.
Blackberries just starting to ripen.
This section of trail has two areas with benches to sit and enjoy the sights and breezes.
The trail stops and you must road walk a tiny bit as the road goes downhill. When the road curves to the right and becomes Gould, the trail resumes. (The old trail is now behind a wooden fence. I would have to think the bluff is unstable there. The road there is quite safe to walk on, as it is only one way now.)
It turns left onto NE 9th St and goes about 2.5 blocks to Coupe’s Park on the water. It then continues on back uphill to the Price Sculpture Forest.