HIKE DESCRIPTION: After just a mile of uphill hiking, visitors to the Anacortes Community Forest Lands can be relaxing on top of the second tallest peak on Fidalgo Island and enjoying views of the San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains.
Located south of Anacortes, Sugarloaf is an enjoyable quick hike or a nice warmup for exploring other trails in the forest, including the island’s highest point, Mount Erie. A road leads to the top of Mount Erie, so you may find more moments of solitude on Sugarloaf.
The way is well worn, although studying the map before you begin will reveal multiple ways to reach the summit. Follow Trail 215 to start and for the most direct route. But be sure to carry a map because getting lost can be easy in the maze of trails that wind through this 2,800-acre forest.
At the top you’ll notice several places to step out of the trees to enjoy the views of Mount Erie and North Puget Sound. You’ll want to spend some time here appreciating this view.
Return the way you came, looping back on trails 226 and 225, or keep exploring. But don’t venture off without a map or you might see much more of the forest than you planned. The web of trails covers 50 miles, according to the city of Anacortes website.
DIRECTIONS: Following state Route 20 from Interstate 5 toward Anacortes, follow signs toward Deception Pass State Park and continues south on Route 20. Turn right on Campbell Lake Road and continue to for 1.5 miles to Heart Lake Road. Turn right and continue another 1.5 miles to trailhead at the base of Erie Mountain Drive.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 2.
ELEVATION GAIN: 650 feet.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: Year-round
MAP: Maps of the forest available on the city of Anacortes website. Sugarloaf is on the Whistle Lake Area map.
PASS: None required.
ALSO: The Friends of the Forest celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The nonprofit citizens group works to preserve Anacortes Community Forest Lands. The group helped stop efforts to log the land and leads work parties and hikes on the trails. Signs in the parking lot warn visitors of car prowlers. Some of the trails in the forest are open to bikes and horses. Dogs are permitted, but must be on leashes. A geocache is located in the area. For more information, visit geocaching.com.