VASHON ISLAND, Wash. — This hike required a quick ferry ride from our neighborhood in West Seattle to Vashon Island. As you leave the ferry a very large sign on the side of the road reminds you that the average age of residents on the Island leaves them at a higher risk for complications from the coronavirus. They simply ask that you abide by all guidelines required to limit the virus’s spread.
While hiking may be one of the safest activities one can undertake during this pandemic, you still need to make conscious efforts to maintain social distancing. It is generally a good idea to pull off the side of the trail to allow other hikers to pass, and please always keep your face covering handy, especially when the trail is narrow.
Maury Island is not actually an island. It’s a peninsula clinging to the south end of Vashon Island. The drive to Maury Island Marine Park may be worth the ferry ride on its own. Vashon is a lovely combination of Seattle suburb and rural farmland.
Due to its bucolic nature, the road attracts many cyclists, so be vigilant. The park has three separate trailheads. One leads directly to the upper forest loop and has a pit toilet, the second is located to the right of the viewpoint overlooking the park, and the third is at the head of the park’s access road, a steep gravel lane that leads to a picnic area above the beach.
We started our hike at the viewpoint. From the deck the trail traces a path across the top of the bluff before reaching a fork, to the left is the switchback path leading down to the water, the right leads into the woods.
We started with the forest loop. The trail crosses a beautiful meadow and winds through a forest of alders and rare pacific madrones before arriving back at the fork. We then followed the trail down to the Puget Sound below. Although it bears the scars of its former life as a mine then a working gravel pit, the park is now a steep meadow of grasses and wildflowers dotted with plenty of shade trees.
The trail is open to biking and equestrian use; you are likely to encounter both as you descend towards the sound. The trail drops 500 feet before spilling out onto a gravel beach covered in driftwood. The beach features primitive campsites accessible from both the trail and the water.
We walked the mile of shoreline before heading back up the bluff at the access road. One of the park's main draws is a gorgeous view of Mount Rainier and the Cascades, unfortunately during our visit, the mountains were hidden by a band of clouds.
Even without the view, the park is well worth a visit and is seldom busy, making it a very safe hiking option during this pandemic.
About the author: Originally hailing from the Southwest Washington coast, Ben Rupp has been a Washington state resident for all but two days of his life, the first two days. His mother gave birth a week early while visiting family in Oregon. He eventually forgave her for this misstep. When he is not pushing buttons as an engineer at KING 5 News, Ben can be found snowboarding, skateboarding, traveling, digging through record stores for obscure vinyl records and going on adventures with his wife Darlene and their 65-pound husky mix Bonnie, all with a camera firmly attached to his person.
The music in this video was provided by Aaron Taylor: https://www.youtube.com/user/aaataylor