Hiking and Walking: Visit San Juan Island’s Pristine Places
San Juan Island is home to two remarkable National Historic Parks. Stunning American Camp on the south end of San Juan Island, and wooded, hilly English Camp in the north. The parks offer breathtaking vistas and hikes, places to play in the water or to make a bonfire at the beach. Learn about the rich history of the island, when it was under military occupation, and about the pristine wildlife living here. Just go with the flow or take one of the self-guided walks in English & American Camp National Parks.
Grandma’s Cove and Historic Sites
A 1.25 mile self-guided trail into history, begins in the American Camp parking lot. Pass historic buildings from the early camp days en route to a secluded sandy, shallow cove, perfect for playing in the water, building sand castles and exploring tide pools.
The Jakles Lagoon Trail is 1.5 miles long, winding through dense older growth forest to a series of small lagoons adjacent to calm Griffin Bay. The lagoons are in the wind's shadow and make for sunny, warm picnic spots. Watch Blue Herons patiently awaiting their prey, as well as sea lions sunning on nearby rocks.
This 3 mile loop takes you to the top of Mt. Finlayson, the highest point in American Camp. While just 290 ft in elevation, the position of Finlayson at the peak of a narrow peninsula affords beautiful views of Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and British Columbia. A short hike to a truly stunning San Juan Island vista.
South Beach is a 2 mile long stretch of pebble and driftwood beach where you can get a good chunk of beach all to yourself, even in the height of summer. Watch foxes, otters, seabirds, Bald Eagles and the whales swim by. Have a bonfire or a barbecue and look for old, Native American arrow heads in the dunes.
Cattle Point Light House
At nearly the southernmost point of the park, the road widens slightly with enough room for one or two cars to park. Here you will find access to a short and relatively flat trail that winds through the grasslands to the Cattle Point Lighthouse. A breathtakingly beautiful San Juan Island vista, with nearly 340 degrees of water view at the end of the peninsula.
BELL POINT AND HISTORIC SITES
The Bell Point Trail, starting beyond the seasonally open visitor's center, old barracks, and formal English Garden, is a comfortable, flat 2 mile loop through the woods with views of Westcott Bay.
Young Hill is a steep, 1.6 mile hike and offers tremendous views in all directions. From the top you can see the Canadian Gulf Islands, Orcas Island, Haro Strait and various mountain views. The forest floor and mossy mountain top are covered with wildflowers in the Spring.
San Juan County Land Bank
San Juan Islander’s pay 1% of every property sale into the San Juan County Land Bank. The Land Bank then purchases select lands or conservation easements for preservation and public access. The system has been a tremendous gift to islanders and visitors alike, as it has granted significant access to parts of the island otherwise private and inaccessible. Some of the most phenomenal public walking trails in the San Juan Islands are on Land Bank acquisitions at the Limekiln, Deadman Bay, Mt Grant and Westside Preserves.
San Juan Island Audubon Society
Bird Walks: The San Juan Islands hosts a huge variety of bird species that changes with the season. Marine birds numbers swell each winter, spring brings songbirds from the south and fall migrants make birding here fantastic. The local Audubon groups offers monthly and special trips throughout the year. Visit their Facebook page for information on current happenings.
San Juan Island Trails Committee
The Trails Committee maintains a list of hiking and biking trails across San Juan Island. Check out their printable maps of San Juan Island's great hikes.