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Thanks to my very energetic Australian cattle dog Hazel, we get to do this on a regular basis in the small coastal town of Anacortes, Washington. The trail systems are quite extensive and there are over 50 miles of multi-use trails in the Anacortes Forest Lands and additional trails in Deception Pass State Park. Both trail systems offer a mix of forestlands, marshes, and coastal seascapes.
If you are visiting Fidalgo Island, use this reference as your insider’s guide to hikes with a view in Anacortes. All you need to do is pack up your hikers day pack with snacks and a water bottle, and bring your camera.
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The Best Hikes with a View in Anacortes, Washington
1 – Rosario Head
.5 miles / easy
Located at Deception Pass State Park, Rosario Head has a short .5 mile loop trail around a rocky outcrop that forms Rosario Head. The trail only takes 10 to 15 minutes to hike, but you’ll want to linger and enjoy the views, so give yourself at least 20 to 30 minutes.
From the parking lot, you’ll see the main trail, which leads right between two beaches. After you see the story and carving of the Maiden of Deception Pass, follow the trail to the left.
Travel tip: There are steep drop-offs at Rosario Head so please keep an eye on small children and pets.
The trail leads you around Rosario Head and features views of Bowman Bay, Admiralty Inlet, Rosario Strait, the San Juan Islands, and on a clear day you can see the Olympic Mountains and Vancouver Island.
You’ll find the easy trail back to the Maiden of Deception Pass near the middle of the head. To take a more challenging route, follow the trail to the west side. The trail weaves down the side to Urchin Rocks where you can do some exploring and tide pooling.
If you have more time you can explore the beaches or extend your hike by taking the one-way trail over to Bowman Bay.
A fun place to stop for lunch near the park is the Shrimp Shack.
Travel tip: To visit the park, you’ll need to pay for a $ 10-day pass or purchase the $30 annual Discover Pass. For those that don’t want to pay, this park has space for two cars outside the gate.
2 – Bowman Bay – Lighthouse Point
2.6 -miles / easy to moderate
One of the best hikes in Washington State is the Lighthouse Point trail at Bowman Bay in Deception Pass State Park. The trail is 2.6-miles round trip and takes around 1.5 hours (with stops). Bowman Bay is a popular part of the park and you’ll often see families from NAS Whidbey here on the weekend
For the trail, the hardest part is the uphill climb near the beginning that leads you up and along a cliffside and then back down to a strip of land that has a sandy beach. The beach is a good place to take a breather. You can walk along the sand on the west side and dream of living near the sea or scout for eagles, waterfowl, and herons on the opposite beach.
From there, the trail leads you up around Lighthouse Point. When you come to a choice of left or right, head left. That will take you to an area with views of the bridge and a small beach with south facing views. Continue to follow the trail up to a rocky treeless area and you’ll have more
Deception Pass Bridge From Afar
The main highlight is the fantastic views of the bridge and North Whidbey Island. Plus, you’ll get to see boats cruise by as they make their way into Admiralty Inlet. On a clear day, you’ll see the Olympic Mountains and Vancouver Island.
From there the trail loops around the point. There are
Looking for more things to do at Deception Pass State Park? Read about four ways to experience Deception Pass bridge. One way includes a high-speed jet boat ride under the bridge!
One of my favorite parts about this hike is the stretch sandy beach. Sometimes I hike out here just to play with the dog and enjoy a romantic sunset.
Travel tip: To visit the park, you’ll need to pay for a $ 10-day pass or purchase the $30 annual Discover Pass.
Travel tip: There is a seasonal campground and kayak shack at Bowman Bay.
Wondering what the best hiking shoes are? Mine is the Bogs Bend Low Hiking Shoe. They are comfortable, breathable, and have good traction.
Sharpe Park and Montgomery-Duban Headlands
.77 miles / easy to moderate
This is my favorite hike with a view in Anacortes because it only takes around 20 minutes to hike the .77 mile trail to Sears Head Overlook and I almost always have it to myself.
Once you get to the overlook there are large exposed rocks to sit on for a picnic and a bench to take in the view of Puget Sound. If you time your hike near sunset, you won’t be disappointed.
The main thing to remember about hiking this trail is to not veer off the
Travel tip: Click here for a trail map of Sharpe Park.
2.2 mile loop / easy to moderate
The Washington Park loop trail is probably the most popular trail in town. The loop is a paved road that weaves through the park and in the early morning and after dusk is pedestrian only.
I rarely ever walk the paved loop, as I prefer to hike the trails. The trails are noted by number not route, which can get confusing if you don’t have a map (download a map here). My go-to hike follows 521 to 520 to 508 to 510 to 513, and I take 516 back to the parking lot. It takes 45 minutes to an hour.
Viewpoint areas in the park include Burrows Channel Viewpoint, Green Point and Juniper Point, which is on the trail I regularly take. The stop at Juniper Point has a bench to sit and watch the boats cruising in Rosario Strait. The islands in the
To park, follow the road for a bit. Once you pass a house on the left, there will be a slight bend in the road with a long gravel area for parking. There is no parking or park fee.
Travel tip: If walking is more your style, check out these easy walking trails in Anacortes.
Sugarloaf Mountain & Mt. Erie
Sugarloaf Mountain Viewpoint / 2.5 miles / difficult
The parking lot for Sugarloaf Mountain and Mt. Erie almost always have cars parked in them. That in itself attests to the popularity of these hikes. There is no parking or park
Sugarloaf Mountain has an elevation gain of 890 ft. and almost all of the trail is an uphill climb. I assure you, once you get to the top, you’ll forget all about your burning calves. Do not forget your water on this hike!
Mt. Erie / 5 miles / difficult
In the above video, the hill with the radio towers on the top is Mt. Erie. At 1,273 feet, it is the highest point on Fidalgo Island. It also has a road that leads to the top with a handful of viewing areas.
The hike is
I have to admit, the uphill climb has deterred me from climbing Mt. Erie trail. But, my hiking goal this year is to make the ascent. I’ll post more photos when I do. Until then, check out this post by fellow hikers and travelers from Pacific North Wanderers. Be sure to bring water.
Travel tip: Be sure to download the Whistle Lake map to your phone or a printed version as the trails are marked by numbers.
2.4 miles / easy to moderate
Whistle Lake has an extensive trail system. It has one of my favorite hikes with views in Anacortes. From the viewpoint you can see SR 20 coming into Anacortes and in the distance the Cascade Mountains. The view isn’t as exciting as some of the others, but in the morning and afternoon, it can be beautiful.
On the return, the trail follows along the edge of scenic Whistle Lake with Mt. Erie as the backdrop. Overall, the trail has a good mix of easy areas with a couple of uphill climbs.
I’ve noted the route in the map section below. The Whistle Lake map can be easily downloaded and I highly recommend putting it on your phone or bringing along a printed version. The trails are marked by numbers and it can be easy to get confused, especially if it is your first time on the trails.
After your hike,