My first wilderness experience in Washington was during a hike at Moran State Park on Orcas Island. I had never seen a flower like the foxglove before, and here they speckled the trailside. It was during this very first trip to WA in 2011 that I fell in love and knew I had to live here. One year later my husband, our cat Lucy, and I packed up everything we owned and moved across the country to start a new life. My only regret is that we waited too long to get here.
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.