White Point Loop

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Review

Photo Credit: Bud Hardwick
The White Point Loop provides an opportunity for visitors to see a different side of Roche Harbor. Along the way you’ll encounter interesting natural areas, an exceptional abandoned quarry, historic orchards, cider pressing operations, and open vistas of former sheep pastures and intricate waterways. At less than three miles of pavement to follow, the loop and its sights can be enjoyed by car, bike or walk.

Begin the loop from any point in Roche Harbor. If starting at the upper parking lot, travel back toward the Entrance Arch and Sculpture Garden. At the first intersection, before reaching the Sculpture Garden turn sharply right onto White Point Road. Proceed along this road a little more than a ¼ mile looking for a pull-off on the right shoulder of the road. If walking and desiring a more adventurous approach, find the meadow behind the small gas station at the upper parking lot. As soon as you enter the meadow, look for a faint trail into the forest going down and to your right. It should bring you to the same road shoulder pull-off.

Across the street is a dense narrow strip of vegetation separating two private residential lots and leading straight down to the water. This corridor of vegetation hides a narrow path to Westcott Point on the shore of Westcott Bay. The Point is actually a tiny cluster of islets that seemingly rise and fall with the tide providing a small area of important habitat on this mostly private shoreline. Despite the dwarfed appearance of the few trees; it is not uncommon to find an eagle perching not much higher than a person’s standing height. On rare occasions it may be possible to see marine mammals hauled out getting their necessary daily dose of shore time. The bay beyond the point is a constantly changing mix of fresh and salt waters which combined with eel grass habitat and seasonal herring spawning make it a crucial element in the local ecology. A surprising variety of bird species that frequent the water, shore and forest can usually be seen. For the best wildlife viewing and in consideration of adjacent property owners, approach the point quietly.

Just a short distance further along the road (about 1/3 mile), another pull-off on the right can be found. Beyond it can be seen the abandoned site of the “Grand Quarry” of Roche Harbor. Now quiet, waterfowl and amphibians enjoy the year-round pond that has filled the bottom of the quarry. Once, it was a furiously busy industrial site. Powerful machines tore at the dynamited limestone and removed increasing amounts of waste rock called overburden. Heavy cables lifted buckets of the limestone up to a short rail line where it was transported to the kilns on the other side of the hill. A large iron ring fastened in bedrock is a silent reminder of the quarry’s tumultuous past. The water depth of the pond is uncertain and the surrounding quarry walls are in a constant state of collapse so enjoy the interesting roadside views without endangering yourself or companions.

The road continues through a dark forest of second growth trees. Once clear-cut to provide wood for kiln fuel and lime barreling, the forest habitat is slowly recovering. Suddenly the road breaks out of the forest and enters an area of open vistas of lowlands and bays. Though this land was settled by owners of adjacent lime works, White Point was always more appreciated for its agricultural uses including farms, sheep pastures and orchards. Some of the original pear and apple trees have been incorporated into picturesque modern orchards; and a local cider pressing facility may be visited.

As the paved road circles back to the north its name changes to Amadale. Behind the private homes to the west, lies Bazalgette Point. This was the name of the British Marine Commander during the “Pig War” years. He was the one responsible for establishing the nearby English Camp (see article this website). Though portions of the shoreline may be public there is no land access to them.

The road dips and enters the forest again as it circles around and eventually enters the marina level of Roche Harbor. Depending on where you began your trip continue straight ahead to the resort or turn right up the steep hill, traveling past the trailhead for the Roche Harbor Quarry Trails (see article this website) and returning to the upper parking lot.

Though the road loop is far less traveled than the Roche Harbor Road; use caution while traveling its narrow corridor. With infrequent parking and pull off locations, drivers will have to be especially mindful of vehicles behind as well as in front of them. Cyclist and walkers will avoid the parking issues but will still have to be aware of the occasional passing car.

The White Point Loop provides a lot to see and experience along its short length and can take as little as a few minutes to drive or a good portion of the day if you savor a slow relaxing walk or bike with a few stops along the way. Whichever manner you choose, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a different as well as interesting perspective of the Roche Harbor area.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 6/30/2011

Directions

The White Point Loop circles Roche Harbor’s historic core and the peninsula to the south. The circle loop can begin anywhere but popular starting points are the Sculpture Garden (see article this website), the Roche Harbor Marina and the upper parking lot for the Roche Harbor Resort.

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