The Kettles Trail System of Whidbey Island

Mileage: Up to 35 miles of trails and the ability to connect with Fort Ebey State Park and the Pacific Northwest Trail

Elevation Gain/Highest:  minimal/220ft

Map: Kettles Trail Map or my GAIA

Favorite Eats After Hike: Pack A Cooler or 3 Sisters Market

Find out current conditions and as always, practice Leave No Trace.  Pretty Please.

My Hike:


This was a beautiful day spend out hiking with my brother and sister-in-law when I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be up in the mountains or visit the ocean.  I had heard about this trail system next to Fort Ebey State Park (Ebey Landing is also nearby)while researching hikes on Whidbey Island and this turned out to be the perfect time to go with my arm still in a sling.

We not only walked along cedar trees covered with moss, gazed out towards Pt. Townsend and the regal Olympic Mountains, but we saw bald eagles and discovered a few of the features for which this park is named.  I wish that my camera could have done a better job of capturing the “kettles” within the forest, but you will just have to take my attempt at a description instead.    

I had read that the Kyle’s Kettle Trail was a good place to see a kettle: a depression left from when pieces of glacial ice were deposited and melted over time.  However, it was easy to see on the GAIA map where trails went around depressions in the terrain, so when hiking on the Cedar Grove trail and it made it a hairpin loop around what could be mistaken for a ravine except that it went up on both sides (no run out to the ocean) we decided that must be one of the kettles.  I hope to go back soon and see if I can spot more of them!

We spent about 3 hours and 4 miles wandering from the large parking lot at the end of Hill Valley Drive in Ft. Ebey State Park, along the Bluff Trail into the park itself and past the fort artifacts, then back down the main Kettles Trail to SR 20 and back again weaving up Madrona Hill and down to the bluff on the Cedar Grove and Hollow trails back to our car. 

There were some places along Madrona Hill the vegetation was the thickest I have ever seen in a trail: the tall, thin trees so tightly packed in you could not even leave the trail to use the “facilities” if you wanted to.  It felt more like walking down a hallway than along a trail.

It was fun to marvel at the names of the trails; some obvious as to their origin, others made you wonder at the story behind them.  I did a trail description of this hike for the Washington Trails Association Hiking Guide, you will find more details there!



Directions: From Coupeville, drive north on SR 20 .7 miles and you will the first pullout for the trail on your left.  There is room for about 7 cars.  For the next 1.3 miles until the road for Ft. Ebey State Park (Libbey Rd.), there are several more pullouts that access the trail system.  Look for a gate with a brown sign marking each one.  You can also drive to Ft. Ebey State Park on Libbey Road, turn on Hill Valley Rd and follow this to the end passing several more trailheads (room for just a few cars).  You can also follow signs for the campround and access the trail there.  Discover Pass needed if you park in the state park, not if you park on SR 20 in one of the pullouts.

Please share if you enjoyed this!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr