"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees."
~Henry David Thoreau
Are you willing? To get lost that is. With only one road in and out, a straight shot across the length of the island, it would be too easy to find your way back, but most of us come here to get lost.
If you like to drive, my chosen form of therapy, take an easy detour off 525 through Langley or Coupeville. Here, it’s always only one road to follow until you see a downtown. If you’re more adventurous or want to see what Island Life is like for the people who live here, take yourself down small roads unknown in Clinton and find quietude among the evergreens and in the wilderness.
Heggenes Road off of Dear Lake Road is a good ten-minute loop--fifteen if you’d like to leisurely drink in the scenery. There’s no rush on an unfrequented road. Plus, it spits you back out onto Holst Road, which is simply an extension of Deer Lake Road. From there it’s a straight shot back to the highway.
Often, the path less traveled is the one worth taking. If you’re inclined to step out of the comfort of your car and breathe the fresh cedar air, there are many walking and hiking trails. Winding seamlessly through the trees and open fields, the paths in the South Whidbey Sports Complex are just some of my favorites. For yet another uncomplicated detour from the main road-there are so many possibilities.
These trails in particular off Langley Road provide options and solace for the weary and the restless. Depending on which route you choose, the stamina you have, and what your goals are for getting outside, you can follow the longer trail that circles around the entirety of South Whidbey Community Park--weaving in and out of the forest--or opt for shorter loops that live and breathe among trees and stay within the sports complex area.
You can’t choose unwisely here, and each trail loops right back into the other. You can choose between five routes depending on your starting point (the park or the complex), and each one is under a mile. The park connector will take you between both parts of South Whidbey Community Park, and the Westling Loop will bring you right back to where you started in the complex.
The park connector, however, is a great place to start for would-be long haulers. It becomes a rather long loop if you take the Waterman Loop detour, giving you something new to look at each step of the way.
There is no end to each path nor the peace and solitude this place has to offer. Feel free to take a picture of the map posted at the beginning of the trails! There’s no getting lost… unless that was your goal for coming out here.
The dense wilderness is a different kind of captivating. For some more nature-immersive trails within the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District jurisdiction, the Trustland Trails are a short distance up the road. With more than double the loops and dense vegetation, these trails are likewise suited for a wide range of endurance levels. Some run even shorter than the ones located at the Community Park, but don’t be fooled! If you put them all together you can get just as much exercise out of these wooded trails.
These two in particular model a true island-life marker for the curious visitor and the seasoned local. Be sure to visit the Bluff Trail to traverse the sprawling coastline! Part of this trail is actually privately owned but has been licensed to the county by the owner for hikers’ convenience. If you’re not up for a trail but want the view, take S Ebey Road by car all the way to the water. You can access the Bluff Trail right where the breathtaking overlook is located a couple stairways up from the beach.
For a longer route (nearly four miles round trip), enter through the Kettles Gate and take Kettles Trails through the heart of the reserve. It’s a straight shot to Bluff Overlook if you catch the very end of Campground Trail. If you decide to follow Kettles all the way through you’ll find a rest area and bathrooms. From that fork in the road the distance in either direction is under half a mile (roughly 0.06 or less). With so many options, the overlook is accessible for everyone!
And once you’ve traveled the not so beaten path, a good way to bookend your walk through the woods is a simple, graveled walk through Venture Out nursery. While Bayview Farm & Garden is one of our more traveled hotspots, this nursery offers just as much to folks who love to bring nature home. Amble down these interconnected paths at your leisure while admiring the kind of nature you can call your own. Any direction you walk carves an intentional path through various trees, flowers, and even custom raised flower beds. (The garden gift shop is a bonus!)
Ultimately, no matter your level of experience in the wilderness, Whidbey Island holds space for anyone and everyone. It’s a safe yet exciting place to simply be. It’s easy to navigate, but more than willing to help you escape. It is a stronghold for all who wish to be a new person by the end of the day.