When you go to a new destination do you Google “trail walking near me” on your phone? If you do this while visiting the small town of Anacortes, Washington the search will find over a dozen trail options. But, the majority of trails on Fidalgo Island are for hikers, not walkers.
So which trails should you take if you want a flat and paved trail or an easy walking trail for steps counting? In this post, I will cover the three main walking trails in Anacortes, the Tommy Thompson Trail, Guemes Island Trail, and Rotary Park. Plus, include information about three additional trail walking options.
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Best Walking Trails in Anacortes
Tommy Thompson Trail
Travel tip: The trail is east facing and receives lots of morning and mid-afternoon sun. On sunny days, you’ll want a hat and sunscreen.
For most of the trail, you’ll see views of Fidalgo Bay and the Cascade Mountains, including Mount Baker on a clear day, and the refineries. Some of the highlights are crossing over a 2000-foot railroad trestle and the beaches tucked along the trail.
This trail is very popular, and you’ll see runners, walkers, bike riders as well as families and dog walkers on the trail year-round.
Travel tip: Keep your eye out for great blue herons, harbor seals, migratory waterfowl, and river otters.
Along the route are interpretive displays, murals, sculptures, and a totem pole at the RV Park. If you need a break or want to relax and enjoy the scenery, there are benches along the route.
There are several access points for the Tommy Thompson trail.
- 11th St. and Q Ave. (Across from the Safeway)
- 22nd St. and Q Ave. (small parking lot with a restroom)
- 30th St. near T Ave. (small parking lot with a restroom)
- 34 St. near V Ave. (street parking, and one of the most popular places to start the trail)
Guemes Channel Trail
The Guemes Channel Trail also follows the old railroad route, and the plan is to connect to downtown Anacortes and the Tommy Thompson Trail, and the other direction to Washington Park. You can read more about that here.
The trail is around 2 miles round trip and has views of Guemes Channel, Guemes Island, Cypress Island, and the Washington State ferry. It is also north facing, with some beach at low tide and partial shaded.
If you are unfamiliar with Anacortes, getting to the trail can be a little tricky at first.
To get there take HWY 20 (also called Oakes Ave.) along this section of road, and turn at Ship Harbor Blvd. Go straight until the road tees and take a left on Edward’s Way. Follow this road to the cul de sac where you can park, and the trail is to the right. (If you find yourself passing the road that leads to the Washington State ferry terminal, you’ve gone
On the north and east side of Cap Sante Marina, Rotary Park has a short paved walk that takes about 8 minutes one-way. It is partially shaded with views of the marina and ends at a viewpoint with a gazebo that overlooks Fidalgo Bay, the jetty, and the marina. There is also access to
There are a couple of ways to get to Rotary Park. One is by walking around the north end of Cap Sante Marina. If the weather is nice, this is a good option, and it will extend your walk some too. The other is drive through or around the marina’s north parking lot and then park in the gravel lot next to the trail.
Optional Walking Trails
Option #1: Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve
Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve, also called SHIP Trail, is one of my favorite short trails because it has 25 acres of wetlands and a long stretch of sandy beach, as well as, the views you also get on the Guemes Channel Trail of the islands and the Washington State Ferry.
What might be a drawback for some walkers is that SHIP trail is not paved. It is mostly gravel with a section of boardwalk that leads you through the wetlands.
To get there, follow the same route to the Guemes Channel Trail and park in the cul de sac. Instead of going right, turn left, and there is the trailhead. Walking the trail takes around 15-20 minutes depending on how long you linger at the viewpoints.
Option #2: Washington Park Loop Trail
If you are looking for a paved trail, but want some inclines to pump those muscles and get the blood flowing, head to Washington Park. The paved 2.2-mile loop trail curves through the park and during certain hours cars are allowed on the road.
The north side is flat, and one could easily walk to Green Point and then turn around and walk back to the parking lot. It’s about a 10 to 15-minute walk to Green Point.
If you only want to walk the flat portion of the loop trail, turn around at Green Point, which you can see from the photo above turns brown in the summer. If you continue past Green Point, the elevation gain increases and there are ups and downs along the road.
Travel tip: At the very end of Green Point, along the road, you’ll find stairs going down to a beach.
When I walk the loop, I prefer to go clockwise, as there is one long stretch of uphill road that I prefer to walk down. What is nice about Washington Park is that it has plenty of seascape vistas and views of the San Juan Islands.
Travel tip: A popular stop for photos along the Washington Loop trail is near a very striking twisted tree – you can’t miss it.
Option #3: Swinomish Channel Trail
Unless you are a local, you probably won’t ever hear about Swinomish Channel Trail as there is very little information about it. I’m not sure how long the trail is mileage wise, but it takes me around 1.5-hours if I walk to the south floodgates and back. It is a gravel trail with some sand.
I like this trail because it has amazing views and you will see great blue herons along the river. Also, since this trail has little traffic, I feel more comfortable letting my dog off leash.
Travel tip: On a windy day, I suggest avoiding this trail as it can make for a very cold and miserable walk.
Travel tip: There is a sign at the beginning of the trail says “Authorized Personnel Only.” I’ve never seen anyone down there but other walkers. The important thing is to respect the land, as it is an Indian Reservation.
To get to the trail you’ll, take the first road after or before the Twin Bridges on the Fidalgo Island side. Drive down the road through the roundabout until you are under the bridge. On the east side, you’ll see a gravel road that connects to one side of the road. Pull off and follow it all the way to the channel, take a right, and once you reach a very large gravel parking lot, the trail is on the south end. There are a ton of potholes on this gravel road.
Want to hike instead of walk? Read about hiking in Anacortes.
Read more about Anacortes in this handy travel guide.