Birds, Bluffs, and Beachcombing: Historic Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island

This adventure has it all: Historic buildings, including a restored homestead and cemetery; stunning views of the Olympics and Mt. Rainier; a shoreline and lagoon bursting with birds; beachcombing along Admiralty Inlet; and a picturesque island harbor town.

Before pioneers settled in what became Seattle, Whidbey Island had already become one of the most settled areas on Puget Sound. The reason was the abundance of flat, fertile farmland that needed no clearing: The indigenous Skagit Indians had been burning and cultivating the prairies for centuries to raise native staple crops. The first settler to land here, Isaac Ebey, couldn’t quite believe his good fortune to claim this “paradise of nature” for himself. Even though the Skagit

Wide tide flats at Ebey’s Landing beach. (B. Smithgall photo)

initially welcomed Ebey and others to their “paradise,” things didn’t quite work out so well in the end.

On this adventure, we’ll ponder the complicated history behind Ebey’s Landing as we visit the homestead and its adjacent blockhouse fortress. The hike is a lollipop loop, beginning and ending on a short trail across the prairie. The first section of the loop is on stunning bluff trail overlooking  Admiralty Inlet and Peregos Lake. The trail then drops down to the shoreline, a section of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, before returning back to the bluff and the prairie. Together these trails and homestead comprise Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve and the adjacent Robert Pratt Preserve, under the management of The Nature Conservancy.

Ebey’s Landing is on the western side of Whidbey Island, about 70 miles north of Seattle.

Aside from the steep 260-foot climb down the the beach and back up the bluff this is a mostly flat 5.5-mile hike. We’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch on the bluff or on the beach as you prefer.

The day begins and ends with a ferry ride from Mukilteo, 25 miles north of Seattle, to Whidbey Island, and back.  Once on the island, at your option, we’ll visit the Mukilteo Coffee Roasters and its Cafe in the Woods, where you can have a late breakfast or a refreshment break and watch roasting in action.

After the hike, we will tour the quaint town of Coupeville, with its historic wharf and shops.  An optional dinner at a waterfront tavern presents an opportunity to enjoy Whidbey’s famous Penn Cove mussels and other seafood.

Hiker Level:2  3  4

Round-trip travel time: 5 hours (including 2 ferry rides)
Hiking time: 4 hours
Total time:  9 hours (10 if dining in Coupeville)
Best departure time: 9 a.m.
Best season: Year Round

Adventure pricing:

Solo:        $525.00
Duo:        $610.00
Trio:         $695.00
Quad:      $780.00

Prices exclude Washington state sales tax and any additional meal other than the provided lunch.