Hiking · Local Adventures

Local Adventures: Keystone Farm and Forest Preserve

Whidbey Camano Land Trust has been on a buying spree the past few years. Which isn’t a bad thing, because the land is getting protected from being developed and new trails/areas are opening up. A huge purchase last year was the Keystone Farm and Forest Preserve, located in Central Whidbey Island, just outside of Island County’s seat, which is Coupeville, Wa. It’s a massive piece of property, 226 acres or so, a mix of forest, recently logged but replanted land, farmland and a lot of beach. The link really lays out the why in why they purchased it.

I snagged an invite to walk the land through the land trust. They have been hosting a few walks to let folks see the newest acquired lands, and to get an idea of their vision for their ideas. Kirk and the boys joined me for the trip.

Having 2/3 mile of beach is a big deal on the island, for it opens up even more space to walk on for the public, in an area where public access is very limited (you cannot be above high tide in private owned areas, and often you get yelled at by the richie riches just for daring to walk on the beach at low tides below their homes). The beach is wide and will be popular for families with children once open. It’s an agate beach and has the flat/smooth clay rocks that are so pretty to simply look at.

When will this preserve open to the public? It will probably open in stages, and it might be 2025 before anything does. They have a lot of work. The driveway must be widened, it’s narrow and long. They have forest to make healthier. Trails will need to be built, and so much more. The best way to see it is to be on their mailing list, and when they offer walks, sign up! Otherwise, it’ll be a while. It’s worth the wait though.

The drive in doesn’t prepare you for when you make the final curve and the view is the Salish Sea in front of you. This was an amazing place to live for the families that called it home.

The old barn.

Overall, it’s been used to grown hay over the years (an easy crop to grow, and one that can easily be leased out to do).

We set out visiting the barn, then walked uphill into the open forest, crossing the year round creek on a bridge and then came out into the field that was used for hay growth.

There are many old fruit trees on the edge of the forest here, still looking quite healthy.

As you walk down the field you come to the area that long ago was built up to store water from the creek. It has naturally blown through the back side, but a shallow lake still exists here.

Walking farther down the field, looking back up. The berm is where the lake is behind it.

Crossing the creek, it is a man made irrigation ditch, that runs straight to the bluff. This area above the bluff has many fruit trees. Apple, cherry and pear were all going in bloom.

The beach access point. The view is across to the Coupeville Ferry Dock and Fort Casey State Park on the right side, to the left side is Port Townsend, Marrowstone Island and Indian Island. The bluff isn’t high here.

The property comes with a house, built in various times. It will be torn down (it’s not in good shape, but WHAT A VIEW!). One reason is how close it is to the bluff. Once the retaining walls are removed on the bluff (eco concrete blocks, large rocks and an old wall made of creosote logs), the bluff may well move, and the house wouldn’t last long. This isn’t a bad thing though. The land trust talked about how they’d like to have picnic tables here, for visitors to enjoy the views from. The removal will also help with the health of the beach. This beach is salmon friendly. Up on the hill, where we parked by the barn, is another home, a small care taker cottage. It was built up by the woods. Once the beach house is removed though, the views will be free and clear.

A flower I spotted walking down to the beach.

The beach looking towards Ledgewood (you can hike all the way from Ledgewood County Park to Admiral Cove now, and once the beach access is open at Keystone Preserve, you will have a much nicer option for driving to).

As you can see the bluff isn’t super high, and has a lot of vegetation on it, which has stabilized it.

Where the creek meets the beach.

An interesting part of nature. You can see the layers that were pressed over the years, most likely due to the glaciers that once covered the island.

From the backside. This will erode pretty quickly and become part of the beach.

Turn around time.

The hike back on the beach was quite nice. It wasn’t windy, wasn’t hot and the sun was out.

Last look at another field as we walked up to our truck.

We put in a couple miles, and got to see so much of a neat area. It will be great once this is open to the public, and will be a great treat for the public to use.


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