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South Whidbey State Park

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The beach is grand and the campground most inviting, but South Whidbey's best attribute is its forest: it's over 250 years old, sporting massive cedars and Douglas-firs. One of the finest tracts of old growth remaining on the Puget Sound shoreline, it was nearly logged in the 1970s. Today a trail bearing the name of the husband and wife responsible for mobilizing the public to protect it weaves through the impressive grove.

Locate the forest trailhead on the east side of Smugglers Cove Road, and immediately come to a junction at a big Sitka spruce. The trail left, the Wilbert Trail, is your return route. Head right on the Ridge Loop Trail. Climbing gradually, pass big firs and a "holy hemlock." The way winds east under a lush canopy and through thickets of kinnikinnick (bearberry) and big boughs of ferns.

After traversing an alder grove at 0.5 mile, the trail swings west, following an old Washington Department of Natural Resources road. With elevation gain now complete, enjoy easy walking. Intersect another old road and continue straight. At 1.3 miles leave old road for trail, beginning a short descent into a dark draw of massive fir and spruce. Listen for wrens, chickadees, and the occasional owl.

After crossing a wet flat, intersect the Wilbert Trail at 1.8 miles. But before re-turning left, strut right for a short distance to the "Giant Cedar," a lone behemoth five centuries old. Read the plaque about the couple whose "tree hugging" led to the preservation of this cedar and 255 acres of surrounding forest.

Now return right to the Wilbert Trail, passing the Ridge Loop junction and continuing through beautiful groves of ancient cedar and spruce. After a small climb, come to what possibly may be the biggest tree on Whidbey Island. Continue a short distance to return to the trailhead.
Driving Directions:

Take the Washington State Ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island. Continue north on State Route 525 for 9.4 miles, turning left onto Bush Point Road. After 2.2 miles the road becomes Smugglers Cove Road. Continue for another 2.7 miles to South Whidbey State Park. Turn left into the day-use parking area (elev. 250 ft). Privy and water available.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 9 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
South Whidbey State Park — Aug 24, 2013 — Susan Elderkin
Day hike
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A family-friendly campground is tucked away in South Whidbey State Park near Freeland, with two shor...
A family-friendly campground is tucked away in South Whidbey State Park near Freeland, with two short trails leading from the campsite area. The Hobbit Trail is about .4 mile round trip. Interpretive markers lead the way, but the box is empty of trail guides. There are some fun trees to admire and a nice vantage from which to watch shipping traffic and gaze at the Olympics.

Also nearby, the more popular Beach Trail. There are three different entrances to this trail, so pay attention when you merge. The trail descends the cliff (fairly gently) to a steep set of stairs to the beach. You can hike along the beach in both directions for a nice stretch. A landslide to the south is interesting to poke around in, as the upturned trees exposed clay soil that when mixed with water is just like molding clay you buy in a store, or even a mask treatment that you'd get in a spa.

There is also a see-saw tree, and various sea creatures to find during low tide, plus the good views.
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South Whidbey State Park — Jun 23, 2012 — retromama
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Mudholes | Water on trail
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We chose to hike the Beach Trail today. The trail was muddy and slippery in spots, but nothing that ...
We chose to hike the Beach Trail today. The trail was muddy and slippery in spots, but nothing that would warrant any concern. There is some elevation gain/loss and a number of stairs to climb. This would be a great short hike for children, it's not terribly strenuous. The beach below is nice and sandy, a great place to build sand castles. The kids found several different types of sea life (crabs, sea cucumbers, sun starfish, and some type of small eel). To see more about our hike visit: http://1retromama.blogspot.[…]ey-state-park-freeland.html
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South Whidbey State Park — Apr 01, 2012 — Mike
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Mud/Rockslide | Mudholes | Washouts | Water on trail
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Weather was not looking good for a long drive to a trail so I headed down to South Whidbey State P...
  Weather was not looking good for a long drive to a trail so I headed down to South Whidbey State Park near Freeland since I saw all sunshine over the island. This was my 12 hike of this year and the weather turned out nice while I was there.
  Whidbey Island has about five state parks on the Island and this is the only one I had not been to. This park is located off Smugglers Cove Road and it easy to get there from the main road which is Highway 20 at the top part of the island but halfway down it becomes 525 just past turnoff to the Port Townsend Ferry. Make a right just across the highway from the Historical Greenbank Farm and Winery. The park has about six miles of trails if you do them all which I did today. The trails take you through some old growth Cedar and Douglas Fur as you can see from some of my pictures. The park spans both sides of Smugglers Cove Road with a short but step trail down to the beach.
  There are closure signs up now on the beach trail but it would seem they are ignored by the locals since they are familiar with the area and I saw plenty of them on the trail. There is a mud slide about a quarter mile down the hill. No trees have fallen over just mud. You can cross it rather easy but expect to get your shoes quite muddy. It is a small crossing with no apparent danger but I do understand the liability reason for the state park putting up the warning signs.
  The beach is about a 1/4 mile long with some nice views of Smugglers Cove, The Olympic Mountains, Pudget Sound and Port Townsend. If you want to get away from the noise coming from the vehicles you will need to take the Ridge Loop Trail across the road. It gets you back in there far enough to loose the noise from the cars. The Wilbert Trail which is name after the family that fought to protect the old growth trees is a pretty level trail but you never get rid of the noise from the cars.
  Some really nice old growth trees and beach access to check out. I always like exploring new areas regardless of how small or the views. You just can't beat checking out what mother nature has to offer. Check out my small video of South Whidbey Island State Park Beach on my youtube channel at lmm3181 or click on this direct link. http://www.youtube.com/watc[…]mp;index=1&feature=plcp
Check out over 155 other trails I have hiked in Washington State also.

As always get out and see this beautiful state!!!
Enjoy your hiking.
Mike
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South Whidbey State Park — Jul 12, 2011 — stevek
Day hike
Features: Ripe berries
Issues: Overgrown
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Loop Ridge trail was easy to traverse and lush and diverse. Didn't see another hiker until we inters...
Loop Ridge trail was easy to traverse and lush and diverse. Didn't see another hiker until we intersected the Wilbur Trail. Lush and beautiful with lots of old growth trees to marvel at. Ferns and Nettles beginning to encroach the trails but it didn't impact the hike. Beach Trail has steep slope and stairs to reach the water. The beach was a narrow strip (might have been tide related) but likable if you don't mind climbing over driftwood.
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South Whidbey State Park — Mar 11, 2011 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail
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Directions to this park and the trails are well described in Craig Romano's book,"Day Hiking Central...
Directions to this park and the trails are well described in Craig Romano's book,"Day Hiking Central Cascades". The beach trail was closed because of the Tsunami warning so we started our hike by doing the 1 mile Forest Discovery loop which begins on the west side of the park south of the Day Use Parking area. Because of the recent heavy rains the trail was muddy in places and the strong winds of the day before may have been the reason for 2 downed trees across the trail.These were easily negotiated. Skunk cabbage was beginning to bloom. We then did the 1.9 mile Ridge Loop Trail on the east side of the park to the Wilbert Trail. Here we turned right and walked a short distance to a 500 year old "Giant Cedar".We then returned right on the Wilbert Trail passing through beautiful groves of Douglas Fir and cedar trees and logs covered with many varieties of beautiful moss. There are many boardwalks along this trail which helped to keep our boots out of the mud. This was a very pleasant new area for us to explore!
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south whidbey sp 2 bob barb.jpg
Massive trees at South Whidbey State Park. Photo by Bob and Barb.
Location
Puget Sound and Islands -- Whidbey Island
South Whidbey State Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 2.7 miles
Elevation Gain 200 ft
Highest Point 400 ft
Features
Old growth
Mountain views
User info
Good for kids
Discover Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Central Cascdes
USGS Freeland

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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48.0561666667 -122.59075
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