My original intent was to power up Chuckanut Mountain to Fragrance Lake, follow the loop trail around the lake and cross that hike off my list – but there was absolutely no parking to be had. Really, it seemed too beautiful of a day to be hiking through a dense, dark forest anyway, so I just kept on enjoying the beautiful views as I motored down Chuckanut Drive. I had not set out just for an afternoon drive – I wanted to hike, to explore, to soak up some of that gorgeous sun, so I continued on until I had reached Padilla Bay as it really was the perfect day for a beach walk.
Home to the wonderful Bayview State Park, with its generous shoreline, Padilla Bay is a very special place. Added to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and the Shorelands Program at the Department of Ecology in 1980 and set aside for research and educational purposes, it is a shallow, muddy, saltwater estuary along the Skagit River delta. My first stop was the Breazeale Intrepretive Center at the reserve, and following a short trail to an observation deck looking out over Padilla Bay, I continued down the stairs for a walk along the beach.
Continuing one mile further south, next up was a walk along the Padilla Bay Shore Trail.
With its drained, muddy tide flats on one side and raised ag lands on the other, it is not often when I have been on this trail that I have felt surrounded by so little water.
Entertained as an eagle soared overhead and several great blue herons explored the ground, even with the strong wind off the bay, the easy, 4-1/4 mile roundtrip walk over the dike went by almost too fast.
Following the trail back, the tide was coming in, and the shallow Padilla Bay was filled by the time I had returned to the trailhead.
Getting there: From Burlington (exit 230 on I-5), head west on State Route 20 for about 7 miles, turn right onto Bay View-Edison Road (the turnoff is approximately 1.75 miles west of the SR 20/SR 536 junction). Continue north on Bay View-Edison Road for 3 miles to the trailhead, on your left. Parking is located a little farther ahead. Turn right onto Second Street, and within 200 feet turn left into the Skagit County Historical Society’s large parking area.