Finally got another hike in! This weekend, my parents visited for the first time since the pandemic started and all we really wanted to do was get outside. My mom had done some research and wanted to go up to Whidbey Island and do Ebey’s Landing, regardless of the forecast for Saturday (cold and dreary). First off, let me say that we got so lucky on the weather all day Saturday. Despite the forecast, we had beautiful skies and no rain at all – the sun even came out towards the end of our loop! It was good we brough windbreakers, though, as there were strong gusts of wind that could be chilly without a coat.
We left Bellevue at 9:30am and arrived at the Prairie Overlook parking lot around noon – there were still open spaces in the parking lot across from the cemetery, and lots of space at the larger lot next to the trailhead. I believe you do not need a Discover Pass to park in this lot (you need the pass to start at the Ebey’s Landing parking lot), but October 10th was one of the freebies anyway since it was World Mental Health Day. The bathrooms at this trailhead are as clean as you could expect, were well-maintained and provided hand sanitizer.
Note – Mask usage was great on this hike. Although most hikers were not wearing a mask all the time (we weren’t either), almost everyone would stop 20 feet out from passing each other and take the time to put on a face covering. This was especially nice since the trail is extremely narrow in certain parts and it was impossible at times to avoid being within 6 feet of one another.
The initial trail from the overlook parking lot is wide and relatively flat. On the righthand side you’ll pass two old buildings – the Jacob Ebey house and the blockhouse that was apparently intended to be used as protection from hostiles. From these buildings, there’s a sign that asks visitors to stay on the trail, which was a little confusing as there were both upper and lower trails leading out from that point. You’ll want to keep left on Prairie Ridge Trail and head down the path towards the water. At the end of this section, you’ll see the second parking lot to your left and a steep-looking path up a hill to your right. We wanted to do the full loop – hiking around the lagoon and then walking the beach back up – so we took the right trail, which starts off fairly steep.
The trail taking you to the end of the bluff was easy to traverse, but was narrow and requires single file for the majority of the way there. I’m not afraid of heights, but I was definitely aware of how bad it would be to fall down the side of the bluff and there wasn’t anything there to stop you if you slipped. Glad it was clear and dry!
When we got down to the lagoon, we didn’t initially see the flat trail that bumps right up to the water and instead started walking down the rocky shore at exactly high tide (right around 1pm). We had to crawl over driftwood and run around waves quickly to avoid getting soaked, and I was pretty worried that we wouldn’t be able to make it back without getting seriously wet. Luckily, we finally made the decision to search for better, flatter ground to hike on and made our way inland where the actual trail was clearly marked. This area was beautiful, and the deep red/green groundcover made for an absolutely stunning contrast against the bluff and the water. Eventually, we made our way back to the beach (we had to walk through tall grass to do so) and walked the rest of the way along the rocky shore. As you get closer to the original starting point, be on the lookout for the steep set of stairs back up to the main trail – you shouldn’t have to go all the way to the Ebey’s Landing parking lot to get back to it. We arrived back at our car around 2:30pm, having hiked for around 2.5 hours. The town of Coupeville is a must if you’re headed this way, and we stopped for takeout/dinner at Front Street Grill – highly recommend!
This hike was fantastic, and it was only one of many I’d like to do on Whidbey Island. Going into fall and winter, I probably won’t be back – but I certainly plan on exploring more in the future when the weather is reliably sunny!