Easy San Juan Island Day Hike: Mt. Finlayson
Deep forest lagoons, sweeping grasslands, and an iconic lighthouse make this easy jaunt a favorite for visitors and locals alike.
At the southern edge of San Juan Island, you’ll find the longest stretch of public beach in the archipelago. The preserved waterfront property is thanks to the Pig War — an 1859 confrontation between the U.S. and Great Britain. While remnants of battle installments and officers’ quarters can be found throughout the island, the ‘war’ was far from gruesome. Just one shot was fired and the only casualty was a hog.
Throughout the 3.6-mile hike, you’ll be treated to a rich variety of ecosystems. The hike begins at the parking lot, from which you’ll follow the narrow path up a grassy hill. At the junction, located .3 miles from the trailhead, signs will point towards a Nature Walk and Mount Finlayson. Head towards Mount Finlayson.
The trail will take you up a series of switchbacks to the mountain’s summit. You’ll be rewarded for your 100-foot elevation gain by expansive views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. During the summer, wildflowers dot the grassy expanse. Here, butterflies and ladybugs abound. Foxes, deer, and eagles are also frequent visitors.
The path intersects with another junction labeled Lagoon Trails. Those who want a shorter route back to the parking lot can take the trail headed northeast. You’ll loop past Jakle’s Lagoon and back to the parking lot.
However, those who continue straight will be treated to a view of Cattle Point Lighthouse and Lopez Island. On clear days, Mount Baker is even visible from this vantage point.
Quickly, the trail descends. At the information kiosk, hang a left towards the Third Lagoon. You’ll cross through a grassy meadow and a forest of towering Douglas fir trees. The trail continues to loop back around to the parking lot. Follow the signs to Jakle’s Lagoon, wrapping around the lagoon and back to the parking lot.
Distance: 3.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 408 ft.
Highest Point: 290 ft.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Dogs: Permitted on leash
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With its lush landscape and plethora of activities, it can be hard to leave the Emerald City during the summer. Throughout the prized months of sunshine, locals and visitors alike try and soak up every bit of the fun things to do in Seattle. But just at the edge of the US and Canada’s watery border rests a quaint archipelago that beckons those looking for a bit slower-paced adventure.
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Tucked within the Salish Sea, the 172 island archipelago known as the San Juan Islands is prized for its stunning views, rich farmland, and incredible seafood. San Juan Island, the second largest island, is the most populated. Spanning roughly 55 square miles, it’s home to several parks that run along the rocky shorelines, including San Juan Island National Historical Park, San Juan County Park, and Lime Kiln Point State Park.