Hiking · Local Adventures

Local Adventures: Walking Ebey’s Trail System

The newest trail system on Whidbey Island just recently opened to boots. Located in Central Whidbey, just outside of Coupeville, Wa this system will help tie in multiple trails to make a much larger area for walkers and hikers to spread out on.

The Walking Ebey’s Trail System sits between Admiralty Inlet Preserve Trails and the Island County Rhododendron Park system of trails. It’s a concept that Whidbey Camano Land Trust has been doing more of – using farmland to host walking paths, that protects the land from development, yet allowing nature to flourish and the land to still be used agriculture.

The new trailhead is on Engle Road. It’s a 50 mph road so keep an eye out for turning into the lot. It’s about halfway between the Coupeville Ferry Dock and Coupeville, and walkable from Fort Casey State Park/Camp Casey (using existing trails, and also walking on grass).

See here for the map of the area, with the trails, that you can download and or print.

Information on both sides to check out.

The trail sets off into the forest at first.

And soon pops out into the first farmland. Just follow the obvious wide mowed path.

Periodically in most areas you will see trail markers noting where you are.

The trail I’d break up into 3 distinct sections.

The first is relatively flat.

Looking across towards the water and to the Quimper Peninsula across the Salish Sea.

The trail jigs back and forth, following the property lines. It passes over a flat and wide bridge, and the turn off to the left is the side trail to the Prairie Wayside – it’s not clearly marked though. While there is a a sign showing where you are on the trail (which they do all along this trail) it doesn’t say “hey this is the other trail” so be mindful here. And right after this the trail goes into the shade, into a thicket of mostly wild rose bushes.

The second section of the trail is where you pop out again into an open area and start dropping downhill. You will eventually be aiming for the area far to the upper left. This section the “trail” is wide and passes working farms. Just stay straight. It will drop down to a private road you will road walk for a short while, as you continue downhill.

This private drive ends at Fort Casey Road, also a 50 mph road. Carefully cross, and find the staircase on the other side, and walk downhill into a field (photo is looking back). The trail follows the road, next to the field.

The trail turns right onto another private drive. Follow it straight, and the trail goes into the woods once again, at the corner, straight ahead.

This section I would call the uphill thigh workout. It starts off mellow.

But quickly regains the lost elevation through open woods. It has a lot of native Elderberry.

Now then….one area to pay attention to? As you come out of the woods, you cross another private road. There are like 3 paths up the hill, take the far left one imo. Now then….there is a trail marker here, but no arrow pointing as on some of the other signs. There is a mowed path straight ahead but also a noticeably cut trail to the right. That isn’t the trail. Stay straight ahead.

This is what I would call the 3rd section of the trail. It’s mostly level and once it passes by an active farm/house it disappears into the forest for the rest of the hike.

This section has the prettiest of the forested areas and is noticeably cooler – for even though it wasn’t “hot”, in the open farmland you really felt the low fall sun. I was glad we had packed sun hats.

Now then….the end of the trail is rather uneventful. It just ends. At a T junction. There is one last trail sign, on both sides – but nothing telling you which trail you are staring at in front of you. In fact….the map provided shows the trail ending before you get to the end (yes, I am being a nit picker). Anyhoo, being I have hiked in the Rhododendron Park I quickly looked at that map and made my choice…..

I could guess I was at Grandpas’ Legacy Trail, and opted to take a right onto it, to follow the park’s boundary line. I wanted to see this trail to the end before we turned back.

Just down from the junction was a nice park bench. It fits 4 to 5 adults and was a great place to take a break and rest before turning back. The area is surrounded by large cedar trees.

Grandpas’ Legacy Trail is a sunny, well lit forest.

And I was right. Soon we came to the junction with Rhodie Road Trail (the main paved path that goes through the park). Had we taken a casual right, we’d have been to the end of that trail, and out to Patmore Road in just a quick jig.

Satisfied, I turned around and we started back.

On the Grandpa Trail I came across something I hadn’t seen before. The crowd sourcing ID is it is a feral type of St. John’s Wort (Tunstan).

The hike back went quickly till we hit the uphill…

Coming out of the forest, looking over to the fields to walk uphill.

As you can see in section 3 I went down a side path that wasn’t the trail and put on a few extra steps (oopsies!). Yeah, that just cut side trail into the woods….I went down that, to be sure it wasn’t the trail.

 

While I tracked the hike, using GPS, there were sections where I was dipping into 2 bars 4G, so I cannot be 100% sure it was properly recording. Having said that, while WCLT says the trail is 3.5 miles, I don’t agree. Maybe 3.25 miles – and that might be generous. Because my mileage included the side path in Rhodie Park. If you stopped at the “trail end” at the T junction, it might be 3 miles one way.

The other issue I have is they should get a sign put in Rhododendron Park at the junction for Grandpas’ Legacy Trail, so hikers coming in that way know about it. But that is my view of course.

And for any picking over signage, this trail is pretty awesome for sure. It will connect in the coming future more trails. You now can walk from downtown Coupeville, on the Rhododendron Trail along Hwy 20, cut into the Rhododendron Park, take the Walking Ebey’s Trail, to the junction for the Praire Wayside Trail, or cut across to Admiralty Preserve. If strong enough, you could walk from Coupeville, and get to the Coupeville Ferry in fact. The next section of trail to be built will connect the Wayside Park to Coupeville, coming into where the school buildings are. Once that is done, it will be a lovely loop, and then connect to the Kettle Trail System and to Ebey’s Landing Bluff Trail (my excitement is huge on this!)

It’s a good workout, and a pleasant walk. Parking is free, leashed dogs are welcome (do not let them run off leash, you are literally crossing private farms and there are many horses and cows out!) Be wary about small dogs as I saw a lot of coyote scat. Again, keep your dogs leashed!

~Sarah

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