One advantage of living in a state with so much to do outdoors is finding places most people haven’t heard about, yet. It’s also nice to find small hikes and trails you can easily do in a day, then still enjoy the area nearby. Guemes Mountain on Guemes Island is one such place, and we did the hike in a few hours this Memorial Day weekend.
Brian and I have had an endless debate of Mountain v. Island for as long as we’ve known each other (of course, I am for the islands!). When we found a small mountain to hike, on top of an island, it was too perfect!
[click on the images to view them in a slideshow]
This little mountain is only a short trail up the island, and once you get up there the views of Mt. Baker, the Cascade Mountains, and many of the San Juan Islands are stunning especially on the crisp sunny day when we went. Since it’s the highest point on the island, it also provides a lovely view of the island itself. This is the biggest view of Mt. Baker I have seen.
One of my favorite things was the flora you see throughout the trail and on the top. At this time, there are beautiful, almost alpine meadows, so many wild flowers, and though not ripe, wild berries are starting. I love how the beginning of the trail starts as an evergreen forest with beautiful ferns all around, but as you get further up, there’s more grass, rocks, and deciduous trees. You’re in a different place than where you started. The trail also gets really narrow! although it is never dangerous.
We heard the usual birds along the trail, but then we also heard cows mooing really loudly near a distant barn on the island, a bit unexpected and entertaining because everything else is really quiet. We saw bald eagles flying around up there, and we had packed a small lunch, enjoyed with a beautiful view. We might have seen 10 people on the trail and summit of Guemes, that’s it! One friendly group even invited us to just stop by at their house and have a drink. We used the remaining day to tour the rest of the island.
You can find more information about the Guemes Mountain Trail on Washington Trails Association. They have done a great job of building and maintaining this trail along with the island residents and the Skagit Land Trust. That there was a new conservation area motivated us to visit Guemes in the first place and I’m sure we won’t be the last.