The trails at the South Whidbey Community Park (Castle Park) are often overlooked, but shouldn’t be. The trails are some of the smoothest you will ever walk, without pavement. The trail system throughout the park is wide enough for the park’s collection of 4 wheel utility vehicles, so they can connect quickly across the vast areas. The key though is the trails are normally quiet, child friendly (and very jogger stroller friendly). With help, wheelchair accessible on certain sections (stay on the main loops).
You can start the Waterman Loop at a number of points, but I found that the easiest is to park at the Parks and Rec building on Maxwelton Road in Langley, and start the hike there. Walk to the right of the building, and find the wide connector trail. It isn’t a long hike (to be honest, I didn’t map how long it was, bad on me) but you can do it even a pokey child in under 30 minutes).
At the end, take a left onto the loop. The trail meanders, passes Switchback Trail to the right, and goes up a hill, passing a park bench with garbage can. They have made the park friendly to dropping off dog poop, so that is nice.
The forest flitters between Alder sections (which came up after the Douglas Firs were cut down on the island). These sections tend be very open, and have lots of Salmonberry shooting up.
And as well ferns just starting to open.
You will come to a trail junction that isn’t marked, stay to the left and carry on. To the right, this unmarked trail is quite nice (and you can make a short loop using it – it connects back to Waterman, and also has Switchback and Salal crossing it). It has a lovely old feral tree on it that was in bloom a few weeks back (it is all green now, as I checked it yesterday).
But I digress, staying on the main trail, you enter a typical Whidbey forest.
A blend of Cedar, White Pine, Douglas Fir, and Hemlock fill it.
The Red Huckleberry and Evergreen Huckleberry plants grow along this section.
Evergreen Huckleberry blooms, getting ready.
The trail comes to a junction and can be confusing (You will see a large work shop through the woods). If you go straight ahead, you will do the short loop I mentioned above. Take a left here and the trail continues on.
Soon, you will come to the end of the Waterman Loop trail wise. If you wish to complete the loop, take a right onto Westling Loop, which will drop you out at the trailhead not far away. The map doesn’t show it well – but you will want to walk down the road downhill, till you hit the bottom, where you will see a small parking area and an obvious trailhead to the right. This is the other end of Waterman, and quickly takes you back to the start of the trail.
For a longer hike, continue on Westling, and come out on the Connector Trail, it ends up out on the road, where you want to be eventually.
One warning: I noted that the trail maps are switched in two areas. The one at the lower trailhead should be up the road, above the skate park. My pedantic self noticed this, and I asked the park’s office about it. The signs have been there at least 10 years and only my dorkness has noticed this. Or probably taken photos of it. I’d say the trail map is to be loosely trusted, but you won’t get lost. Eventually you will encounter another trail, or the road 😉
Parking is free, park is free to use. Keep dogs on leash.