It’s a park where nature is slowly taking back signs of human activity. That’s why English Boom Historic Park is our best beach this month.
by Jack Penland
A Pre-Dawn Glow
From behind the Cascades, the pre-dawn glow was well underway as I found my goal tucked away at the north end of Camano Island–English Boom Historic Park.
The park offers an expansive view of Skagit Bay and the Cascades. On this morning, clouds hid most of the Cascades, but that held hope of a picturesque sunrise. While I was the only person there, I wasn’t alone. Birds, still hidden in the dark, were tweeting and calling, supplying their usual morning song track.
English Boom is where nature is reclaiming a place from human activity. Years ago the English Lumber Company stored tree logs here, a facility called a “boom.”
Remnants of the facility still stick out of the water or out of the expansive mud flats between vegetation and water; singular weathered fingers of wood giving the place a bit of a ghostlike feel. Birdhouses sit atop several of those “fingers.” The area is a great place for spotting birds, and several organizations schedule trips to the area.
The sun is now just visible above the mountains, and the Boom begins to take on the yellow glow of morning. On clear days, there’s a impressive view of snow-capped Mt. Baker. For me, that view would have to wait for another day.
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To Get to English Boom…
From Stanwood, take State Route 532 west 2.2 miles and turn right (north) on Good Road. Drive .7 miles where the road veers to the left and becomes Utsalady Rd. Drive 1.1 miles and turn right onto Moore Road. Follow Moore Road .66 miles until it ends at a small parking lot near the beach.
A Heron Breakfast
I see the day’s first heron, then another and another. They start the morning hunt for fish at the far end of the mud flat, well away from me. I take a single step onto the flat and my boot sinks in several inches. I retreat to more “foot-friendly” terrain.
The shore is, indeed, very easy to explore. There are several easy trails through the brush and even an ADA compliant trail that makes this place something everyone can experience. With only a few steps between the main parking lot and the trails, this park is an ideal experience for people who want an enjoyable walk, not an athletic challenge.
A noise turns my attention back to the water, where two heron are in dispute. One flies away into the tall trees that serve as the park’s western backdrop. Before I leave, I witness additional disputes, likely over sharing the morning catch.
People often also see seals, falcons and other wildlife in this area that is one of the many places that have been protected through the Whidbey-Camano Land Trust. Facilities here are minimal, just trails, wildlife, a great view and detailed information about the nature and history of the place.
There are no restrooms or garbage cans, so be sure to pack out whatever you packed in.