Hikes: Bluffing LIke Spring

2024 0125 hikes

“A good hike starts with a stop at Starbucks,” Kath said.

Me, I prefer a water bottle in my pack, along with a Kind bar, or any other dark chocolate bar, or any chocolate whatsoever, be it a truffle or KitKat or chocolate-covered almonds or even Aunt Martha’s chocolate fruit cake, anything chocolate. But I digress, and now I’m salivating a little.

After a week of extreme cold and a couple inches of snow which became compact ice, and with the coming week predicted to be warm but drenchingly wet, this past Saturday bloomed with unexpected sunshine, warmth, and clearing skies. Our goal was to hike the Bluff Trail at Fort Ebey State Park to be rewarded with the view at the big meadow, a place Kath had never been to before.

So, after stopping at Starbucks, we drove out to the west end of Libby Road, walked onto the beach as the tide began to recede, and headed south toward the park. Kath finished her green matcha tea as we hiked. The Olympics bared themselves beyond a pancake-flat Strait of Juan de Fuca.

After walking a half mile on the beach, we found the path leading into the state park. Climbing up the bluff trail, still frozen and slippery in places, a side trail took us directly above Point Partridge; from here we could see Japan if the earth were flat. And we could see our destination ahead, the big meadows of Fort Ebey, sunny green and inviting. Next we entered the hidden bunker that looks out over the strait. The sun’s heat rolled up the grassy bluff and melted the coats right off of us.

We climbed and descended the shadowed icy trail, then up the next ridge, Kath’s broken-branch walking stick giving her traction where my big feet gave me skis.

Shafts of delicious sunlight drifted down through fog, and lichen hung like tinsel in the trees. The welcome warmth, the still air, the smells of spruce and thawing soil, the twinkling voices of kinglets, and the incredible views made us feel we had entered springtime out of a frozen Narnia.

And then we were there. A stalwart fir tree created a window welcoming us to the huge meadow below our feet. If you haven’t hiked this trail before, then imagine that tingling feeling of seeing the first signs of spring as the meadow leads your eyes to the waters, to the mountains, to the sunshine, to the feeling that you have been here before, to the feeling of being home.

The Bluff Trail magic had worked.

We wandered the meadow like school children, dancing and singing, freewheeling on this January day that felt like June. The trail circled to the gun battery, a dark and stark reminder of the fearful history that has become this transformed stage of peace.

After a potty break, we returned down the trail, skipping across the snow as it continued to melt, then taking the short walk to a frozen but restful Lake Pondilla as our icing on the cake.

That reminded me: I enjoyed my chocolate bar and a drink of water as we walked back along the beach in the slanting golden sunlight of the early evening.


Directions: From Highway 20, four mile north of Coupeville, turn west onto Libbey Road. We went to the parking area at the end of the road, but you can also turn left on Hill Valley Drive which leads directly into the park.

By bus: Route 6 Southbound comes to about a half mile from the Libbey beach access.

By bike: West Beach Road is a quiet but hilly access route from the north. The Kettles - Rhododendron bike trail leads north from Coupeville to the Kettles which has trails leading directly into Fort Ebey.

Mobility: Within the park there are accessible overlooks near the meadow; otherwise the trails are a mixed variety of hilly, with dirt, gravel, and when we were there, ice as a base to walk on.

Republished with permission. View the original article.