We were on Lopez Island in the San Juans this past weekend for Tour de Lopez, but due to back issues, I decided to explore by foot instead (have done the Tour twice before and it's a great time!)
I have the Ken Wilcox book "Hiking the San Juan Islands" but found that it didn't have a couple of these amazing short hikes/walks listed..maybe due to length or maybe because trailhead access is through private property…?
All three trips combined made it a perfect full-day out of fresh air, exercise and big views. These are all part of the San Juan Islands National Monument, which was created in 2013 to permanently protect BLM lands. You can read about it here:
#1: Watmaugh Bay and Point Colville - (In Wilcox book) Watmaugh Bay Beach is a short little walk…5-10 minutes on a dirt path to a beautiful little cove. After playing at the beach, you leave your vehicle in the parking lot and walk the other way up the road until you find the trailhead for Point Colville. There are NO trail markers, but we figured it out because we are flaming brilliant. The trail takes you through pretty forest of big trees and salal and out onto wide open green bluffs with tons of wildflowers. GORGEOUS. You can walk along the bluffs until you come to an END OF PUBLIC PROPERTY sign and then duck back into the forest to complete the loop. We spent about 2 hrs here basking in sunshine and watching a tanker get boarded by Coast Guard among other things. There were no other people out there. Most enjoyable.
#2: Iceberg Point - This is mentioned briefly in the Wilcox book under Agate Beach County Park. But all it says is something along the lines of Iceberg Point is public land, but there is no way to publicly access it. What kind of horse-shittery is that? Park at Agate Beach County Park or on the road near it, and walk to Iceberg Point in about 15 minutes. You will pass through a gate that looks very uninviting, but if you look up, you will see two hand-painted signs pointing you in the right direction. This place was stunning! More wide open bluffs, expansive views, forested trails full of salal, cove beaches, etc. We saw people only in the distance, which came in handy when I had to water the salal…such an amazing place to have to ourselves on a warm sunny day.
#3: Chadwick Hill - I didn't find this in the Wilcox book, but it was listed on the Lopez Island Chamber of Commerce Website. They have great trailhead details for these and other trips on island. This is the 2nd highest Point on Lopez at 470feet! Trailhead is not marked, and you have to park on the side of the road and walk through a private field to a metal gate that announces you are now entering public lands. This was more of a hike because there were lots of ups and downs and I was puffing away because we were walking at a faster pace, a bit worried about distance and making it out before dark. We were told (by a reluctant local) that it was roughly 1.5 miles to the top. The entire hike is forested until you reach the opening at the top. Lots of offshoot trails to explore. Once again, big views, pretty flowered bluffs and no people! We were looking down on Watmaugh Bay Beach where we had been earlier that day. Best of all, right on top there was a cool rope swing that even I was able to maneuver and enjoy the views while swinging through the air.
Great weekend! Look forward to more exploring next year.
P.S. Last year, we went to Shark Reef Park and it was also really gorgeous.
Shark Reef Park 2013: