Jetty Island and the City of Everett waterfront
A sandy artificial island becomes a nature preserve
Hike Length: 6 miles round trip from Everett Community College
Elevation Gain: minimal
Hike Difficulty: easy
Located in Everett’s Port Gardner Bay, Jetty Island is an odd creation of both artificial and natural forces. The construction of the jetty was started in 1895 in an attempt to trap the waters of the Snohomish River and convert the bay into a fresh water harbor. However, the project never worked as intended. Over the years, river and tidal currents deposited sand around the jetty, converting it into a broad island. Eventually, plant life took hold on the island, making it increasingly naturalized and attracting birds and other wildlife.
Today Jetty Island functions as a important wildlife refuge. It’s also a popular destination for humans, who enjoy the sandy beaches, Puget Sound vistas, and unusually warm (at least by Sound standards) swimming. A free ferry running in July and August provides transportation to the island.
The Everett waterfront is still quite gritty and industrial, offering little attraction to hikers or tourists. When Jetty Island is not accessible, which is the case most of the year, it’s probably not worth coming out for a visit--unless you like things gritty and industrial.
View of Port Gardner Bay from Legion Park, north Everett (photo credit: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)
A trip to Jetty Island is a multimedia affair, involving two different bus systems, and a short ferry ride. There is no ferry service to Jetty Island on Monday, Tuesday, in any season other than summer, or in bad weather anytime. Be sure to check on the status of the ferry before you go.
From downtown Seattle, catch the Sound Transit 510 express bus and ride it to Everett Station.
At Everett Station, transfer to the northbound ET bus 7 and ride to College Station at Everett Community College.
If you arrived at Everett Community College, you’ve got a bit of a walk (about 2.5 miles) to get to Jetty Island. From the recommended stop at Everett Community College, walk west through the campus to Wetmore Ave. Go right (north) on Wetmore to its intersection with Alverson Blvd. Follow Alverson north past the American Legion Memorial Park, where you can find a small garden, lawns, and restrooms. There’ s also a nice view out over the Everett harbor from here.
Shortly past the park, Alverson Blvd. intersects Marine View Drive. Carefully cross the wide, high traffic Marine View Drive to the north side, where there is a generous sidewalk. Go left (west) and follow the drive over a bridge spanning railroad tracks and on down to the waterfront. Despite the industrial nature of the Everett waterfront, the walking is not half bad. You often meet joggers on the sidewalk as you head south along the harbor. Pleasant views out over Possession Sound and bracing sea breezes will keep your energy up, and soon enough you will arrive at the 10th St Marina. Follow the access driveway to the Jetty Island ferry dock .
Once on the island, you can wander at will along the two mile length of the island. On a clear day the views over Puget Sound (technically Possession Sound here) to the jagged skyline of the Olympic Mountains is breathtaking. Many people make a beach holiday out of their island visit, bringing picnic supplies and blankets and just lounging in the sand. Swimming is best when the tide is high. There is no shade on the island, so bring plenty of sun protection.
At the waterfront, you could ride Everett Transit bus 6 from 13th and Marine View Drive back to Everett Station (sparse weekday schedule only), or walk back to Everett Community College and catch the ET 7 there. From Everett Station, ride Sound Transit back to Seattle.