Trail Walking Near Me: Anacortes

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.

Discover more the area in the Anacortes travel guide.

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Best Walking Trails in Anacortes

Tommy Thompson Trail

The 3.3 miles (one way) paved Tommy Thompson Trail begins at the Port of Anacortes, and skirts along Fidalgo Bay following an old railroad route. In total, the trail is 6.6 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of 25 feet.

The Tommy Thompson Trail in Anacortes, Washington/
The Tommy Thompson trail is one of the most popular walking trails in Anacortes.

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.

Beaches along the Tommy Thompson trail in Anacortes, Washington.
At a mid to low tide beaches can easily be explored.

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.

Benches along the Tommy Thompson Trail in Anacortes, Washington.
A new set of benches along the Tommy Thompson Trail.

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)

Click to find out more about the Tommy Thompson Trail on Washington Trails Association.

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.

Walkers o the Geumes Channel Trail in Anacortes, Washington
Guemes Channel trail in Anacortes. Photo credit: Guemes Channel Trail Project

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 too far.)

Map to the Guemes Channel Trail.


TripAdvisor

Rotary Park

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 small beaches.

Rotary Park in Anacortes

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.

SHIP Trail in Anacortes has views of 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.

SHIP trail in Anacortes, Washington

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.

SHIP Trail in Anacortes, Washington.

Click to read more about Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve Trail.

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.

Washington Park Loop in Anacortes, Washington.
The north section of the Washington Loop Trail is very flat.

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.

Green Point in Washington Park in Anacortes.
By mid-summer, Green Point often turns brown.

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.

Beach at Washington Park in Anacortes.

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.

The Swinomish Channel Trail on Fidalgo Island.
Swinomish Trail is a quiet trail with incredible views.

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.

Swinomish trail map.

Want to hike instead of walk? Read about hiking in Anacortes.

Read more about Anacortes in this handy travel guide.


Best walking trails in Anacortes, Washington.

20 thoughts on “Trail Walking Near Me: Anacortes”

  1. I live in Anacortes and love walking the trails here. I live near the Guemas Channel trail so walk it often. I also love all the Forest Land Trails and hike them often. I can even get to Little Cranberry without getting in my car!

    Reply
    • Cathy, I hike the trails a ton here too! So many great trails in Anacortes. You are lucky you live so close and can walk to them without driving your car!

      Reply
  2. What a great post for finding walking trails in Anacortes. I love how you are very clear on the fact that these are flat hiking trails. These look like lovely trails to reconnect with nature (did you say herons!?) and find a bit of peacefulness.

    Reply
  3. Never heard of this place but looks so amazing to visit. Love all your pictures and the way you have covered all the details. Bookmarking for future. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  4. I didn’t know you could do that on Google maps, I will have to check that out. It’s great that there are so many trails around here and ones that are suited to all levels of fitness and ability and still allow you to get out into nature and explore some amazing views.

    Reply
    • Nicola, It is really nice that we have trails for different levels and moods. I hope you get to check out Anacortes one day soon!

      Reply
  5. I love hiking and try to do it in every city I visit the Tommy Thompson trail looks beautiful. I love how you can see the Casade Mountains in the back ground. I especially like how you included a map of the trails, that is extremely helpful. I have never been to Anacortes, I hope I get to visit someday.

    Reply
  6. Awesome Post, sometimes you just need a flat easy walk so you can take your surroundings in! Well thats what I prefer! I do love a good hike but my preference is flat walks. Looks like a beautiful place with great scenery 🙂 Happy Travels 🙂

    Reply
  7. When we are away, we always look for trails or hikes nearby. That’s often a great way to explore the region and move away from touristy spots.
    We found ourselves sometimes excluding moderate or difficult hikes because my kids prefer running on a flat trail! Your three suggestions look great!

    Reply
    • Rim, That’s great to hear you like to explore the trails in a destination. Great way to experience an area and see the spots the locals love. I totally get the kids running thing. These trails are perfect for that.

      Reply
  8. I love how detailed this post is. I like easy hikes so having this list makes it easier for me to decide on a trail. The Tommy Thompson Trail sounds lovely and it would be so nice to spot some Harbor seals along the trail.

    Reply

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