Easy San Juan Island Day Hike: Mt. Finlayson

Mt. Finlayson
Mt. Finlayson San Juan Island Day Hike

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

Accessible: Year-round

Dogs: Permitted on leash

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