Backpacking Hiking Camping in the Pacific Northwest

backpacking hiking camping gear

Exploring Trails in the San Juan Islands

Here are 3 of our favorite hikes in the San Juans.

1. Mount Finlayson

Mount Finlayson is one of the island's most beloved hiking trails and provides stunning views south towards Langford. Not only that, but it's also an excellent workout for those seeking to shed some calories.

Mount Finlayson peak

The trail parallels Cattle Point Road and climbs steadily, taking in views of golden grasslands dotted with wind-blasted contorted fir trees. As you make your way towards the 290-foot summit, enjoy uninterrupted maritime views as you ascend.

A short trail leads to the summit of Turtleback Mountain; a longer path continues downhill into the forest. After half a mile, you'll reach an intersection where your right option will take you down to Jakle's Lagoon for great views of Turtleback Mountain across Griffin Bay.

2. Cattle Point

Are you in search of a picturesque hike that includes some shady forest and stunning views of Cattle Point Lighthouse and its surrounding islands? Look no further! This hike should be completed during autumn, winter or spring.

Woman at Cattle Point gazing out over the waters of San Juan de Fuca

To reach Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the most convenient way to get there is by driving to Anacortes and taking the Washington State Ferry there (in summertime, this ferry requires reservations). Once in Friday Harbor, drive through downtown Friday Harbor and turn left onto Mullis Street which becomes Cattle Point Road.

Follow Cattle Point Road for just under 7 miles until you come upon a sign reading "Jakle's Lagoon" and a small parking lot.

Once you've parked, the trail leads you around American Camp, a San Juan Island National Historical Park featuring old military buildings from the days of the Pig War dispute (1859-1872). Additionally, Mount Finlayson (290 feet) provides stunning views of Cattle Point Lighthouse and other islands in the distance.

3. South Beach

For a change from mountain trails, backpacking hiking camping on an uninhabited beach is an excellent way to experience the Olympic Peninsula. This section of coastline boasts rugged sea stacks, diverse marine life and stunning beaches that will leave you with lasting memories.

The shoreline of South Beach

South Beach on San Juan Island is the longest and wildest beach in the park, situated right next to American Camp National Historical Park. Perfect for hiking or wildlife watching, South Beach offers plenty of activities!

Hike from the American Camp Visitor Center through open prairie and the Redoubt perimeter to a point where the trail meets the shoreline. From here you can explore South Beach and Jakle's Lagoon from this vantage point. Keep an eye out for foxes, bunnies, Northern Harriers, Orcas and other birds as you pass by on your walk.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *