Open. Such a lovely word; especially, lately. Washington State is cautiously progressing through the first of four phases to reopen so many things that have been closed. After weeks of #StayHome and #WorkFromHome, many were happy to hear that at least some of the parks will be open. That’s an excuse to talk about which ones are open, and maybe say a bit more about a few of them.
Parks. Whidbey has ’em. The island has natural beauty, a coastline of coves and harbors and beaches, and more than a few beaches. There are so many parks that listing them all would be best done in a book, not a blog post. Unfortunately, the responsible thing to do lately was to close them until the doctors and researchers got a better idea of how the virus spreads, and how well we’ve controlled it. We’re making progress, hence several parks opening; but we’re also learning and only in the first of the four phases, hence several parks staying closed, as well as open parks still having closed restrooms and such. Bit by bit.
The parks opening is happening at a great time. Too many people have been kept indoors for too long, but that was also while the area was in our usually mixed springtime weather patterns. Summer isn’t here yet, but look at the forecast, and the tides. A great time to get out and play – responsibly, of course.
Here are a few of the parks listed by the state and the county as at least partly open. The list of open parks is even longer if the city parks are included; but compiling that list is left to the reader; or to any islander willing to do some driving or calling to see what’s available if and around our few cities.
Probably the most famous of Whidbey’s parks thanks to the iconic bridge, dramatic cliffs, and plenty of beaches and bays. Check out north and south sides of the Pass, and west and east of the road that uses the bridge: SR 20. As for the sidewalks on the bridge, those are too narrow to maintain a six foot separation – unless someone establishes one-way lanes and enforces no crowding. No problem. There are plenty of viewpoints.
Fort Casey may not be as famous, but it is recognizable from some movies, like Officer and a Gentleman. It’s more important purpose was to be one of the main forts in a series of defenses guarding Puget Sound and the cities around it from naval invasion. The forts are decommissioned, but the geography that made them great sites for the military also means they have great, unobstructed views of water, ships, mountains, and wildlife.
Want something a bit quieter that Fort Casey? Fort Ebey is nearby. Pick the one that’s more comfortable.
Hope Island – Skagit
Don’t expect to drive to Hope Island, and don’t expect to find it on most lists of Whidbey Parks. The island is officially in neighboring Skagit County, but that is arbitrary as it is yet another island in the archipelago. Got a boat?
Want to look west, effectively straight out to the Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Juan de Fuca? Beaches, fields and places to play. Another good place to watch the big ships go by.
South Whidbey State Park is obviously somewhat south on the island. It’s another west-facing park. Admiralty Inlet funnels the ship traffic into lanes that bring them closer to land. Problems with the beach trail and some of the weakened trees occasionally close part of the park, but the inland trail network draws more than enough hikers.
The county added a park that’s close to the state’s Deception Pass park. It isn’t as large, but it does provide beach and west view access. Ask locals about fishing, and whether the beach is available or too crowded during the right season.
Double Bluff is very varied. There are the bluffs, of course. They’re continually sloughing off sand and whatever else is in and on the bluff, including full-size trees, on occasion. The beach is long – at low tide, making a natural hike that gets people into a wild part of the island. At low tide, the bay empties, almost as if it was Useless. (small local joke). And then there’s the off-leash dog park that provides exercise for the animals and entertainment for the humans.
There is more, naturally, and unofficially. Many neighborhoods have walking trails or long beaches. Inland are several trail networks, some associated with various island organizations, others that seem to organically develop as people cut and map trails. Ask around. There’s probably something in the area. Enjoy the great outdoors in some great weather, something much appreciated after weeks of yet another binge session on the couch.