If you like hiking, biking, and kayaking, Lopez Island offers plenty to keep you occupied. This is a small island, at only 15 miles long and 8 miles wide. Friends have asked us, “Do you ever get island fever?” The answer is “No.” In fact, it’s hard to pry us off the island.
We always have intentions of going to Canada (after all, we’re just a ferry ride away). Or even of spending more time in the rest of the San Juan archipelago. But the days fly by, and we don’t even think about going off island. True, we’re only here for two months, and we might feel differently if we were here for much longer. But this time of year, when the days are long, the sun shines brightly, and the temperatures are near perfect, there’s no place we would rather be.
The options for outdoor play are all good. There are numerous hikes through forests of huge ferns and thick mosses, or along rocky headlands with views of distant mountains and islands. And of course, there’s always a beautiful walk along the sand, rock and shell-strewn beaches at Spencer Spit, just a few hundred feet from our campsite. We hop on our bikes for gorgeous rides on peaceful country roads past picturesque farms, or bike along sparkling bays. Surrounding the island are numerous protected coves that are perfect for our kayak adventures. Although we’re out every day hiking, biking, or kayaking, we have yet to explore all that the island offers. (Click on the map above for a larger version of all the great places for Lopez adventures.)
Here, a few of our favorite spots:
Iceberg Point: A 3-mile loop trail wending through a mixed forest and golden grasslands leads to stunning views of the rocky shoreline overlooking the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. This is the place to see Tufted Puffins if they’re around. Parking is available at the San Juan County Park day-use area at nearby Agate Beach, a lovely little beach with beautiful colored rocks. (We’ve yet to find agates, but it’s still fun to hunt for them.)
Shark Reef: A 1/2 mile walk through a thick forest of salal leads to a spectacular craggy shoreline dotted with picturesquely contorted pines. Dozens of seals and hundreds of shorebirds create a cacophony of sound, and sea lions generally make an appearance. A sunset picnic at Shark Reef is one of our Lopez traditions—as dusk descends, the lighthouse at Cattle Point on San Juan Island winks across the San Juan Channel.
Watmough Bay: A turquoise gem with a lovely beach and a view of snow-covered Mt. Baker on the horizon, Watmough Bay is protected and warm on a sunny day. A beautiful 1/2 mile trail on the south side of the bay leads through a magical glen of thick moss and ferns. Chadwick Hill rises 500 feet on the north side, with a network of steep hiking trails through madrones to the summit for expansive views toward Whidbey Island and the mainland.