We had beautiful weather during my parents’ visit and spent most of our time outdoors. On Saturday we got an early start and enjoyed what was left of the Skagit Valley tulip festival before exploring some of the other towns throughout Skagit County.
There were lots of people with similar plans and we had had enough of the traffic and crowds by the end of the day (or at least I had!). Sunday seemed like a perfect day to spend our time in the out-of-doors, admiring the Pacific Northwest’s beauty.
My parents are into hiking and there are quite a few state parks on Whidbey Island so we drove up and around to the north end of the island and made our way down and back to Lynnwood via ferry.
We managed to hike in three state parks along the way.
Our first stop as we entered the northern part of the island was Deception Pass State Park. We stopped off before crossing the bridge to walk around and admire the bridge and check out our favorite spot for animal watching along Canoe Pass. We weren’t disappointed–there was a sea lion turning tricks in the water along the cliff!
Once we crossed the bridge we parked and hiked from the parking area to West Beach via Gun Point and North Beach. We actually hiked down to the beach and walked along the water to West Beach and then hiked through the woods on our way back.
It was a fairly long hike–2.5 miles round trip plus time spent exploring both beaches– but it was nice taking different trails there and back so we had different points of view in either direction.
After we had our fill of Deception Pass we drove south through Oak Harbor and down to Fort Ebey State Park.
This park used to be home to a coastal defense fort in WWII and there are still two concrete areas marking where the guns used to be mounted. The gun batteries are still in place and we walked through the halls and peaked into some of the remaining rooms.
We were there at the wrong time of day for the sun to really light up the Sound and Olympic Mountains–it was directly overhead instead. Despite the sun’s position we had incredible panoramic views all along the coast.
We took the Bluff Trail south along the water and came around a bend to a perfect view of Mt. Rainier. It was absolutely beautiful and stunning!
There were a number of birds and butterflies, and we stopped one of the park rangers to ask about the yellow flowers all over the cliff. They are called Scotch Bloom and are actually an invasive species brought over from Europe.
While I hope they don’t disturb native flora, I think they’re lovely!
We stopped for lunch in Coupeville before heading a little farther south to our last park for the day, Fort Casey Historical State Park.
This one was also neat and incredibly different than the previous two in that it is home to a coastal artillery post and Admiralty Head Lighthouse. We didn’t spend our time hiking at this stop– instead we explored the sites.
We started with the former base. The Army took over the site in 1890, built the garrison in 1897 and relocated the lighthouse. It was completed just as airplanes became a viable military weapon, rendering it fairly useless given its complete exposure to overhead attack.
The base still has four historic disappearing guns in tact. They aren’t the originals, some of which were removed during WWI and the remainder of which were removed in WWII. However, they are originals that were discovered in the Philippines many years later and relocated to this base. They are thought to be among the only originals still in existence.
After climbing around the base we walked up to the lighthouse, which was rebuilt in 1903. The keeper was very friendly and spent quite some time sharing the history of the area and the lighthouse’s function over time. We were able to climb up but it was a very small platform and incredibly hot so we didn’t stay long!
The whole park has beautiful views of the Sound and we weren’t far from the Port Townsend ferry line. If you enjoy hiking and history, I highly recommend you check out this park.
I actually recommend you check out all of these parks– they are close together but incredibly different. We had a wonderful day exploring the northern part of Whidbey Island via its parks, and I look forward to tackling the other state and local parks in the southern part of the island soon!