You need only drive a few miles up Whidbey Island to find an inviting campground with hiking trails down to a sandy beach and through deep, ferny forest. We hiked the Wilbert woodland trail at South Whidbey State Park last Saturday afternoon, when sunshine was filtering through the canopy in a dreamlike haze. The woods were green and hushed, and the old-growth trees were awe-inspiring.
Whidbey Islanders literally wrapped themselves around these tree trunks to save them in the 1970's when this ancient forest was almost logged; you'll be so grateful for their successful intervention when you walk Wilbert Trail (named after the husband and wife who galvanized public support for the trees) and look up into the branches of massive Doug firs, cedars, and big leaf maples. This is one of the finest tracts of old growth forest remaining on the Puget Sound shoreline, and its reached by a well-maintained, easy-to-hike trail, only about an hour and a short ferry ride north of Seattle.
It's rumored that the biggest tree on Whidbey Island is in one of the groves along Wilbert trail; certainly this 500 year old giant cedar is a candidate;
This elephantine big leaf maple is nearly as impressive as the cedar -
The slugs grow big as gerbils in this lush, moist, shady environment where huckleberries sprout from nurse logs and ferns carpet the orest floor.
And the fantastical stumps, naturally dripping with moss and vegetation, must be the envy of any gardener trying to create a stumpery.....doesn't it look like a Hobbit might well stick his head out of one of these nooks and crannies any moment? This forest is truly magical...
Driving Directions to South Whidbey State Park:
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.