The Maxwelton Trails Park is open on the south end of Whidbey Island now. It was an odd mix of turning school owned trails into public trails, and are now part of South Whidbey Parks and Rec department. It also brought in a huge forested section that was bought from a local family, to bring into the public sector more protected land.
The new trailhead signs were up I noted as driving by, so we got to hiking.
South Whidbey is known for its carved signs, from long ago, for trailheads, parks and such. They are painted cheerfully.
Although we apparently have long necked aliens living here……
The main trailhead is located between the old 5/6 school on Maxwelton Road and the bus barn. There is no parking there, though you could park on the road. Having said that, if it is after hours or on the weekends, you can park at the 5/6 school lot and walk the sidewalk down along the road to it. This school building is still used weekdays, so keep this in mind. On the map it is labeled “Primary School” (which it hasn’t been for a long time). The South Whidbey Park (Castle Park) is across the road, so we parked there at the first hiking area inside, and walked out and crossed Maxwelton. This has a crosswalk, and a light blinker to hit, though most of the day there is little traffic on the road. Only during drop off and pickup is the road truly busy.
Another trailhead parking area is at the Park and Rec building, just a scootch down the road, and across the street. It has ample parking to use. It’s rarely busy there, so a good (and safe) place to park. They have bathrooms as well, if the building is open during the day. It’s a short walk from there to the trailhead.
The trailhead is wide and inviting. There is no kiosk or map – or well even a trail marker to tell you what trail you are on. This will come later for sure. Now then…..
There is a map you can download online and print. It was mapped by Steve Ford, who also did the Kettle Trails System map in Coupeville and other local trail systems. It’s not up to date I noted, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful.
If you see the red line I jotted onto the current map, you will see the “mostly accurate” trail we took from the road. It threw me off at first because I had hiked some of the trails here before, pre pandemic years, when my kids were still in public school here.
The new trail from the road is double wide, big enough for the side by sides the Park and Rec department uses to maintain trails. It was very recently cut.
Our loop we did, we stayed straight at all junctions till we hit “end of the trail” This new section I have to surmise is part of the Log Road or Old Log Road. By staying straight you avoid being near the school and getting the outer perimeter.
Anyways, once the map is updated to the newest trail(s) and kiosks go up, it will be even better.
You can see where we came in, and the loop we did, compared to the map above. On the map you will see Forgotten Trail as the lowest trail on the map. Ignore that. That trail is way closer to the school building (behind the school is the farm for the school, and trails run by it, this trail is close to the farm).
As you can see the trail is wide and smooth. It does go up and down, so you get a nice but easy workout.
The focus of our hike was all the fungi on display. It had recently dumped hard, so the show is on.
South Whidbey Park, across the road, their trails are wide, so trail crews can get in. It’s not a bad thing. This wide Old Log Road will allow them to access the entire park through the middle of it. Good for after hard storms.
A closeup of a massive PNW rootball, when Evergreen trees go over. This one had multiple skinny Hemlock trees connected.
Coming to this sign I finally was able to see where I was on the map. We were at the little bump out from Old Log Road to Huckleberry Loop. Here it ends at private property. (Even though the map shows it extending a bit more)
Here we turned right, to get onto Huckleberry Loop.
Huckleberry Loop is named after Evergreen Huckleberry. In the forest, these plants can grow 16 to 20 feet high, trying to reach the sun. And yes, they produce edible berries. My land is rich in them. The plants love the coastal Salish Sea islands to grow on. They stay fully leaved all year. Add in some Salal, and this very narrow single track trail is very nice to walk on.
Moss grows well here.
As we joke “Nature’s Hamburger Bun” mushroom. We kid!
It was a very mature example, with the top part highly defined.
On Huckleberry Loop we passed Alpine Pathway (marked) to the left and kept going. Next junction was Old Log Road, where Huckleberry dumps out onto. Here we took a right. I was determined to figure out where the trail went, since I knew the map wasn’t up to date.
Now back on the Log Road trail we walked it till it hit a junction, where it was either left or right. We took a left to go back the way we came. This junction isn’t marked, but you will recognize it as having passed it. And then a nice walk back to the start.
You won’t get lost of course, but until it gets fully marked at junctions do pay attention so you won’t wonder where you are.
We will be back to walk the other trails.
While there is no kiosk about rules up, if it follows South Whidbey Park ones, dogs must be leashed and poop picked up. The park is free to use, and parking is free.