Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Washington Park, Anacortes – Trip Report

hiking with children, anacortes hikes, puget sound,
Looking west from Washington Park

Sometimes we don’t really feel like hiking on a particular day.  Sometimes we’re tired, we’ve been running from one thing to the next and the next with no room to breathe.  We face a choice – continue to be busy and go hiking (with all the preparation and energy exertion that requires) or stay home, sleep in and clean house.  Normally, the choice is clear – why would I choose housecleaning over hiking?!  But a couple of weeks ago, I really had to think hard about whether I wanted to go hiking as planned or not.  My friend even asked me if I was sure I wanted to go when we talked on the phone the night before; she said I sounded really tired.  But I knew that it would be good for me to get a dose of nature and fresh air.  Having other adults along – driving, as well – would help so much.  So I declared we were going hiking no matter how tired I was, and I’m so glad I did, because it was a beautiful trip.

puget sound, washington park, anacortes, hiking fidalgo island
Beautiful scenery

We picked a trail that was close, since Kirsten had to be back by a certain time.  She and Elena picked us up pretty early.  We made good time on the way up there, optimistic for clearing skies.  But when we got to Anacortes, it was swallowed up by a rain shower.  What bad luck!  Thankfully, the rain stopped when we got to the park, and all we had to contend with were wet bushes.

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Annika in the forest

This was a new trail for everyone but me.  Washington Park is a wonderful forested area just past the ferry docks in Anacortes.  It covers the tip of the peninsula on Fidalgo Island.  You can park near the bathrooms (the driveway past the boat launch parking area.)  It’s nice to use heated restrooms with flush toilets, warm running water, and soap when hiking.  We did the trails counter-clockwise, starting out walking along the water, parallel to the road.

puget sound, washington park, anacortes
Trail goes near the water

(You can drive the one-lane road on a loop around the park.  There are several areas to pull off to admire the view or access the water.)  Lots of folks were walking dogs, but we had the biggest packs. (You have to laugh at yourself sometimes, right?)

puget sound, washington park, anacortes, hiking with kids, children in nature
Enjoying the view

We enjoyed having a view of the water, looking at sea birds and out to the San Juan Islands.  What a spectacular area! We saw some surf scoters out in the water, and some other birds. We also saw a Douglas squirrel and some cool fungus.

washington fungi
Funky fungus
Douglas squirrel
Someone had left some corn and seeds out for this squirrel

The trail along this low section is through salal undergrowth – in places it is like a narrow tunnel, with spider webs cris-crossing to ensnare the lead hikers.

kids in nature, hiking with children, washington park, anacortes
Salal tunnel

Annika didn’t like this section, as she was afraid of getting scratched by the branches, and I guess since she was the smallest, I can see how she could feel intimidated and trapped.  There was a nice picnic area out there, where you could access the rocks to the water.

washington park, anacortes, hiking with children
Picnic area
washington park, anacortes
Benchmark at the water’s edge

 

Yeah, we've only gone 1/2 mile
Yeah, we’ve only gone 1/2 mile

For some reason it took us a really long time to walk the half mile to the western end of the park, where there was a set of stairs and a path down to a little cove.  Even though it was still early, we stopped and had a lunch-like snack, and the gals and kids walked down to the other end of the cove while I tried to pretend I was alone on the beach.

washington park, anacortes, hiking with children
Sunny little cove
puget sound, washington park, anacortes
Ferry and islands

It almost worked.  Sometimes an introvert mama has to take what she can get.  I took some deep breaths and listened to the sound of the wavelets swooshing gently up and down the rocks.

washington park, anacortes
Wavelets swooshing
washington park, anacortes, beaches, puget sound, shells, whelks
Still life

An eagle flew directly over us.  I will never tire of seeing these majestic birds in the wild.

After the kids were refreshed, we continued our loop.

fungus, washington park, anacortes, hiking trails, orange fungi
Brains!

The trail went up the hill at this point, and where it intersected the road, we walked down the road a short section to catch the next trail heading up to the tip of the point.

hiking with children, kids on the trail, washington park, anacortes
Mountain goats

At one point the trail got so steep we felt like mountain goats.  Thankfully that section is short, and soon enough we were on top of the headland, panting and looking for a spot to stop and take in the view.

washington park, anacortes, hiking with children
On top

The trail continues on to the farthest south hill before cliffs stop your southern progress.  There was a bench up there to sit and admire the view.  We saw our second seal of the day, way down in the green water.  Lots of boats were out fishing in the weak afternoon sunshine.

washington park, anacortes, puget sound, hiking with children
Looking south
washington native plants, washington park, anacortes
Interesting plant in the cracks
hiking with children, anacortes, washington park
Annika catching her breath
anacortes community forest lands, ACFL
Sugarloaf and Mt. Erie

My Green Trails map doesn’t show all the spider web of trails that cover the top of the mountain.  We wandered along them in a mostly easterly direction.  We went down and then up again, and then Gabriel realized he didn’t have the little bag for our camera.  He had been using our old point & shoot digital, and it had been velcroed to his pack belt.  But at one point he had set his pack down, then when we continued on, instead of putting the pack on, he had dragged it on the ground, upside down, its contents spilling out.  I knew the camera bag had fallen off at that point.  I was so furious.  I should have made him come back with me to retrieve the bag, but I needed to vent some steam, so I practically ran back to that section of trail, and sure enough, there was the little bag back at the point I thought it was, lying several feet off the trail.  When I got back to Gabe, I tried to impress on him that it’s super important to be conscientious with our gear.  This time it was a camera bag, but in the future it could be a warm hat, gloves, or something that could jeopardize his life.  I’m sure it will take a couple of other times of lost gear before that particular lesson sinks in, but hopefully he’ll get the picture.

hiking with kids, children in nature
Camouflage

While I was gone, Gabe dug in the red clayish dirt and covered his face with “camouflage.”

hiking with children, kids in trees, madrona, washington park, anacortes
Little monkey
children in nature, washington park, anacortes
Annika

Annika really liked the madrona trees on the hills.  We marveled at the circles of mosses and lichens growing in circles around shrubs.

washington native plants, anacortes, washington park
Plant assemblage
madrona tree, bark, washington park, anacortes
Elephant foot
Madrona trees, washington park, anacortes
Texture

It’s a unique environment on those Puget Sound balds, and I find them intriguing ecosystems.  The afternoon was ticking away, and we kind of hurried along the trails from here, picking our way down to the road and back to the parking lot more quickly.  We had a bunch of laughs over the incomprehensible trail signs, making up silly definitions for what we thought they symbolized.

trail signs, washington park, anacortes
Hmmm….
trail signs, washington park, anacortes
You may use scissors here
Trail signs, washington park, anacortes
This one means the one with the orange headbutts the one in the blue

I made Gabe wash the mud off his face in the restroom before we headed back down the freeway.  Both up and back we saw multiple eagles and hawks along the road.  It seems like it’s been a really good raptor year this year, but it could also be we’re just getting better at noticing them.  I was really glad we went on this hike.  It was a good workout, we got to see some cool stuff, and the fresh air and break from routine were just what the doctor ordered.  I did clean house the next day, and had some time to chill at home that weekend, but I’ll have the memories of this hike to turn to when I need a happy place to go to in my mind.

One Response to Washington Park, Anacortes – Trip Report

  1. Beautiful words and photos of adventure! The Star Trek geek in me specifically loved the “brains” photo, as they look like an alien species from one episode… sci-fi drama inspired by nature?!

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