Whidbey and Camano Islands:
 24 more reasons to take the road(s) less traveled

— Created August 3, 2022 by Melanie Hammons

By Melanie Hammons

What’s love got to do with it? According to a new field guide, “24 Trails off the Beaten Path,” published by Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism, when it comes to the beautiful natural surroundings of these islands, love has everything to do with it. Available for free at any visitor center managed by the Chambers of Commerce and at some businesses, “24 Trails” features some of the less familiar or even newly designated natural areas and attractions, places even longtime residents may not know.

Locals and visitors alike relish familiar sites such as the state parks at Deception Pass, Fort Ebey, Fort Casey and Cama Beach. They’re the places we like to return to again and again, and that’s where the love comes in. The writers and partners of “24 Trails” seek to encourage users to spread that love around by checking out some of the region’s less-well-known trails and vistas.

“We’re all seeking solitude and sanctuary in the outdoors these days, yet wanting to respect the sensitive environment of the islands – here are 24 ways to do just that,” said Sherrye Wyatt, PR and marketing manager of Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism. She said other key community partners offering their expertise in the guide are Sound Water Stewards, Island County, Island Transit, and Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

“The trails were selected based on geographic location, setting, levels of difficulty, and accessibility,” said Scott Rosenkranz of Greenbank, one of the guide’s collaborators. “The guide highlights different settings up and down both islands, showcasing the character and natural beauty to be found here.”

Rosenkranz said that rather than competing with the other great in-depth resources out there such as “Getting to the Water’s Edge,” by Sound Water Stewards and “Hiking Close to Home,” by Maribeth Crandell and Jack Hartt, the guide “is meant to be a primer to encourage further exploration.”

“It serves, in part, to ease pressure on some of the more ‘over-loved’ areas,” he said.

And there’s that word ‘love’ again.

The field guide offers in-depth details about 24 trails located along wooded hideaways, pastoral vistas, and rugged beaches, according to Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism. The names themselves are intriguing, names such as “English Boom” on Camano Island.

There are other locations whose names and/or features sound especially worth investigating, according to Rosenkranz. These include “The Hobbit Trail” at Iverson Spit; the “T-Rex” at the Price Sculpture Forest; “Little Deadman Island,” as seen from Ala Spit; and “Dragonfly Glades Trail” at Trillium Community Forest.

If these names and locations are a mystery to you, fret not. There’s a website for that. Check out whidbeycamanoisland.com/24 trails, which shows addresses, mapped locations and more. The “Two Minute Trailer” videos on the website offer virtual tours of each site. Helpful tips such as parking information, stroller/wheelchair ease, dog-friendly spots and other amenities are listed.

“It almost goes without saying, that everyone can have a part in preserving the beautiful areas around here, whether they’re already well-known favorites to us or the new-to-us locations highlighted in “24 Trails,” said Ryan Elting, conservation director of Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

“We want to encourage people to treat these areas well. Talk to other trail users about good practices that leave-no-trace, including picking up after pets,” he said.

It’s a message that already resonates with the field guide’s contributing organizations such as Sound Water Stewards and Whidbey Camano Land Trust. Both groups have long-standing commitments to host environmental work parties, beach clean-ups, and educational outreaches. Each organization hosts a website that describes how volunteers and financial support go a long way in helping to care for the waters and lands that surround us.

Another reason to peruse a copy of “24 Trails” may be its size. At four-and-a-half inches wide and six-and-three-quarter inches long, it’s compact and easy to carry. As mentioned earlier, a free hard copy may be picked up at any visitor center managed by the local Chambers of Commerce, while supplies last. Users are also welcome to download a personal copy at whidbeycamanoisland.com.

The places listed in “24 Trails off the Beaten Path” just may wind up being some new favorite places to hike; it’s sort of like making new friends. And like old friends we love and return to, we can always look forward to going back to see the more familiar ones, too.

For more information about this field guide, see the website at www.whidbeycamanoislands.com/24trails or email info@whidbeycamanoislands.com.