Touched by Midas
The two highest points on Fidalgo Island lie within the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL), and they are surrounded by a wealth of hiking trails, lakes, ponds, and rocky cliffs with incredible vantage points of nearby islands and waterways, as well as distant views of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics. Mt. Erie, being the highest at 1,273-feet, provides spectacular views, picnic tables, sculpture, and even a drive-able road to the top. Sugarloaf, at 1,044-feet, has a beautiful open, rocky area at the top with a view of its brother directly ahead. Combining these two points through the many hiking routes available results in a difficult, 5-mile roundtrip trek. You’ll get quite the workout, but you will be amply compensated with great views! If hiking is not for you, you can drive right to the summit of Mt. Erie. For even more to do in Anacortes, have a look at our previous visit!
We started from the trailhead located off of Heart Lake Road. A small parking area is provided along with a posted map of the network of trails. This trailhead is marked 215; we took a photo of the map to reference at each junction. The trail starts off reasonably flat but very soon takes a steep upward turn. It was cold and shady beneath the tree canopy with occasional streaks of sun spilling across our path. Golden leaves beneath our feet heralded falls coming surrender to winter.
In 36 minutes we found ourselves atop Sugarloaf. We knew of the views to be had on Mt. Erie but were pleasantly surprised by equally lovely scenery on Sugarloaf. There were a couple of other hikers already enjoying the scenic fruits of their labor when we arrived. We could see the top of Mt. Erie from here. We captured some photos from the best vantage points possible without encroaching on the space of others. We took a few minutes to appreciate our surroundings, shed a layer or two because we had warmed up, and started our descent. We followed our path back to the intersection that would take us to Mt. Erie and off we were to the highest peak.
Up and down and around, we trekked for an hour before coming to the top of Mt. Erie. Making our way to the viewing platforms, we took in the sweeping views of the town below and far beyond. Mt. Rainier was even visible on this bright, sunny day. We took photos, enjoyed the Mountain Guardian sculpture and took time to eat at a nearby picnic table. Before starting our hike, we stopped off for a couple of sandwiches from Gere-a-Deli to bring along. Relaxed and replenished, we again donned our backpacks and began our journey back.
This was a perfect afternoon! What a beautiful gift of lands the ACFL has provided for the public. Well maintained and well-marked trails, providing leisurely to moderate hikes. Trails available for bicycles, horses and even motorcycles criss-cross this purposely set aside landscape. The golden rays of sun streaming through the vegetation highlighting the golden leaf litter were serene and visually invigorating.
Contributed post and photos from Stacy & Brandon – Pacific North Wanderers. Stacy & Brandon are Pacific North Wanderers. Both transplants to Washington state, they spend their free time outdoors exploring, hiking, and camping all across the glorious Pacific Northwest. They started Pacific North Wanderers in 2015 to share their adventures and inspire others to enjoy the outdoors.