I photographed this eagle as it flew across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca near Shark Reef Sanctuary on Lopez Island, WA. The island is a great place to explore on bicycle and all of the trailheads have bike racks. After a short, but very muddy hike lots of opportunities for wildlife viewing are available at this location.
26.5 miles / 1060′ elevation gain
With springtime just around the corner, my husband and I had decided it’s time to dust off our bikes and put the rack back on the car. Ever since our first visit to Lopez Island we knew we wanted to go back with our bikes, and now was the perfect time to make that happen. We woke up early enough to arrive at the Anacortes ferry parking lot with time to spare before the 9:25 am ferry departure. After quick maintenance to our bikes and loading up our gear we left our car behind and headed for the bike passenger loading area. We chatted with other bikers as we anticipated the arrival of the ferry and met a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary! We each shared stories of our previous adventures in the San Juan Islands and learned about what to look forward to during our journey that day. Once the ferry arrived we walked our bikes across the car parking lanes towards the front of the boat. Here we were once again starting an adventure on a WA state ferry in the Puget Sound – one of my favorite things to do!
After a quick 35 minute ferry ride we unloaded and stood in the waiting area as less than 10 cars drove off the boat onto Lopez Island. It was time for our biking adventure to begin, and it started with an uphill climb right away. Even though a cool morning air still lingered, the climb warmed us up quickly causing the need to stop and shed layers early in the trip. We continued to bike our way along Ferry Road which eventually makes a right turning into Fisherman Bay Road. As we winded along the roads of Lopez Island I couldn’t help but notice the interesting road names and charming signs throughout the island.
We made our way along Fisherman Bay Road meandering through the rural farmlands speckled throughout the island. The very limited amount of traffic made for comfortable and safe bike travel throughout the day with smiling drivers waving as they passed. We detoured into Lopez Village making a quick stop at the local market before making our way back south around Fisherman Bay. As we neared the southernmost point of the bay, we headed west and eventually north along Bayshore Road towards Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve. The ride along Bayshore Road was spectacular with views of the bay to our east and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca to our west. As we headed north, signs led us along smaller roads through a small forested area towards Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve. We were pleased to find a bike rack at the trailhead parking as we locked our bikes up and headed for the beach. A short trail winds through driftwood leading us to the beach. We found a log to sit on giving us front row views of the crashing waves and sailboats. As the the sun warm our backs, we noticed a sun halo around it just above the bay to our east.
After resting and refueling we made our way back towards the trailhead and our bikes. We headed south down Bayshore Road once again, but this time a boat plane flew just above our heads and landed in the bay alongside us. We hopped back onto Fisherman Bay Road, but turned off shortly afterwards onto Airport Road towards Shark Reef Sanctuary. Knowing that this was a great location for wildlife viewing as we have been here once before, we were excited to visit this area once again. We parked our bikes happy to find another bike rack at the trailhead located near the end of Shark Reef Road. The trail towards the western edge of the island was short but very muddy. Trudging through the muddy trail became a distant memory once the panoramic views of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca came into sight. The trail makes its’ way to the very edge of the coastline ending with panoramic views to the west. Cattle Point Lighthouse on San Juan Island is the backdrop to amazing wildlife viewing. A large rock just of the shoreline had become the resting place for several dozen sunbathing harbor seals. We were surrounded by the sights and sounds of wildlife including harbor seals, eagles, seagulls, and Canadian geese. The combination of the surrounding wildlife with the crashing waves along the shoreline and the ocean breeze upon our faces was serene.
It was hard to pack up my camera and leave this beautiful wildlife sanctuary behind, but hunger was calling us back towards the bay for lunch. After a quick lunch and afternoon cocktail at Lopez Islander Bay Resort we were back on our bikes this time headed towards Spencer Spit State Park. We made our way east across Lopez Island on Hummel Creek Road. After slowly making our way uphill, the road flattens out and meanders along the countryside passing Hummel Lake to the south. We made our way north turning onto Port Stanley Road then headed downhill along Bakerview Road towards Spencer Spit State Park. We left ours bikes at another trailhead for the last time and quickly made our way downhill towards Spencer Spit. With the ferry departure time nipping at our heels, I hurriedly snapped a few photographs and soaked in the peaceful surroundings.
It was mostly uphill from here both on foot back towards the trailhead and on bike towards the ferry landing. Knowing it would take us longer to make our way uphill on the bikes, we moved as quickly as our bodies allowed. The ride up Port Stanley Road meanders alongside Swifts Bay to the east of the island. We made our final push northwards connecting back to Ferry Road once more. With my body pushed to its’ limits, I welcomed the top of the final hill I would climb on my bike that day. We cruised downward towards the northernmost tip of Lopez Island headed towards our last stop back at the ferry landing. We arrived with time to spare which allowed us to stretch and rest our aching muscles. My husband and I were the only bike riders leaving Lopez Island on the 6:10 pm ferry to Anacortes that day with only a handful of vehicles. We had the ferry with Mount Baker and Cascade Mountain views all to ourselves as we made our way towards our final destination.
During a recent visit to Lopez Island, WA my husband and I made a stop at the Shark Reef Sanctuary even though we had already been there once before. Knowing this was a great spot to view harbor seals we welcomed the short hike once more. The trail brings you to the westernmost edge of the island looking across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca to the southernmost tip of San Juan Island. We were pleasantly surprised to find several dozen harbor seals sunbathing on rocks just off the coast. This location is perfect for wildlife viewing where we had the opportunity to see harbor seals, eagles, Canadian geese, seagulls, and other various bird species.
9+ miles / 1800′ elevation gain
Like the past several weekends in the Pacific Northwest, the weather forecasted for clear blue skies on the last day of February. A friend of mine suggested we hike to Poo Poo Point, and I was happy to explore West Tiger Mountain once again. My husband and I hiked to Poo Poo Point last winter, but our day turned from rain at the bottom of the Chirico Trail to snow at the higher elevations with zero visibility. Last December we volunteered with the Washington Trails Association making trail repairs on the Section Line Trail. We were excited to finally hike up to Poo Poo Point and see the hang gliding and paragliding that make this trail so popular. We arrived at the trailhead parking in Issaquah meeting two friends for a day of hiking around 10:30 am.
Our hike began on the Rainier Trail starting at the parking area off East Sunset Way. As soon the hike begins it briefly climbs up following the roadway to its’ left before you turn right onto a flatter part of the trail. The Rainier Trail makes its way behind an Issaquah neighborhood and eventually the Issaquah High School. As we hiked along this section of the trail it was easy to notice the close proximity of the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club with the sounds of frequent gun shots nearby. Just as the trail nears the edge of the school property, we made a left onto the High School Trail. This is where the trail starts to climb with a gradual ascent making its way upwards towards Poo Poo Point. The West Tiger Mountains trails were full of hikers enjoying another beautiful day in Washington. Once the trail connects to the Section Line Trail the climbing becomes steeper and constant. We stopped several times to catch our breath and hydrate from the exhaustion of the climb. As we made our way along the trail it was fun to walk along the ditches and trail dips I helped dig only a few months before. It made me appreciate the volunteer work the WTA provides even more thinking about the manual labor it takes to maintain the trails throughout the state. The trail begins to switch back and forth more frequently as it makes its’ way up. Once the trail finally reaches the top, with only one half mile to go, it then begins to slowly descend back down the side of Tiger Mountain towards Poo Poo Point. We arrived at our destination with excitement as the view of crowds including picnicking hikers looking on to several paragliders and hang gliders preparing to take off.
We found a spot among the small crowd to join in the fun of viewing the paragliders at Poo Poo Point. The horizon was speckled with adventurers floating along the wind currents in the sky. The paragliders took turns one by one jogging right off the point and pulling their legs into a sitting position once their parachute takes control. We spent the afternoon with a panoramic view of the Puget Sound while refueling and enjoying conversation with friends. I loved the vast array of colors the parachutes displayed as they slowly glided their way down towards the valley floor. After a while, several hang gliders were ready to make their departure from the point as well.
Even though the sun was shining, the cooler temperatures had us wanting to start hiking to warm ourselves up once more. After a short uphill hike that helped us warm up more quickly, the long, winding trek towards the bottom of West Tiger Mountain began. I always enjoy the downhills as they allow for good conversation as you hike. Time passed quickly as we retraced our steps towards the parking lot enjoying the company of hiking friends. Many hikers we still pouring up the trail towards Poo Poo Point as we were rapidly approaching the end of our journey. Once we reached our final destination we said goodbye to our friends and drove away from Tiger Mountain. I knew it would not be the last time my boots would hike those trails.
During a visit to New Orleans in 2011 I made my way to the historic cemetery district on the train. I noticed this lizard hanging out around one of the gates surrounding a large cemetery. I followed the lizard around for a bit capturing images of it as it made its’ way along the gate.