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Sharpe Park — May 2007

Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands have numerous hideaways for spring flowers and Sharpe Park is one that may have been below your radar screen. From the parking lot the trail heads toward a kiosk which displays a map of the park and a message about the current problem with Nutrias. Be sure to record the trails on paper, or better yet, go to: http://www.skagitparksfoundation.org/sharpe.htm where you can print out a PDF map.

One option is to keep right and make a broad counter-clockwise loop of the whole park. Near the wetland, we admired the coloring of Calypso bulbosa, and just before reaching the first park bench on the south side of the trail, we saw the unusual pale brown to copperish-orange color of Trentapohlia, a green algae genus that grows free, occasionally on Alnus rubra (Red Alder) and closer to the bench on a Tsuga heterophyla (Western Hemlock) is the bright yellow of Chrysothrix candeleria (Gold Dust Lichen). Dueling Nuthatches are gabby both close by and in the distance as we pass by the upright branches of Abies grandis (Grand Fir) seedlings.

Beyond the wetland and into forest with dead lateral understory fuel, the ground mat is Plagiomnium insigne moss and then replaced with Linnaea borealis (Twinflower). We pass high points with green wavy mats of Dicranum scoparium moss and white puffy lichen Cladina mitis (Coastal Rain Deer). Heading downward toward the cliffs, we begin to find the paired basal leaves that look to be Clintonia uniflora (Queen’s Cup) and the sudden elegance of Erythronium oreganum (White Fawn Lily). And as we make our way parallel and above the cliffs, we see boulders inundated with Sedum spathulifolium (Broad-leaved Stonecrop) and the ground is frequented with Lonicera involucrata (Black Twinberry). Skipping ahead, behind the second park bench you will find lots of minute Claytonia perfoliata (Miner’s Lettuce).

After the views of Sares Head and the third park bench, retrace your footsteps until you reach the first available trail to the right and then you will be heading back toward the trailhead, and completing the great circle. All along the trail you will see the promise of Trientalis latifolia (Western Starflower).

To reach, Sharpe Park, take SR 20 west out of the Arlington-Mount Vernon area, and keep following the main highway 20 as it turns left, away from Anacortes and toward Oak Harbor and Deception Pass. Just past the second good-sized lake on your right (Pass Lake), turn right onto Rosario Road and drive a couple of miles. Watch for Sharpe Park on your left. For a detailed road map of this area, try the PDF file at http://www.plaidnet.com/guides/SG.06/60.SG.06.pdf Deception Café and Grill which is about 2-3 miles out on your return trip has a very good menu. Thank you, Sharon Baker and Rick Droker for your help with this hike.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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