#247 South and Eastbound (from #248)
1.5 miles roundtrip / 40 min.
Description: Forested, rocky in places
Views: Mt. Erie and Lake Campbell
Directions: See #248 which connects to #247.
From #248, if you take a right, you’ll walk along the south side of Mt. Erie on a trail that was just recently “opened” and rebuilt by volunteers (thanks!), after years of being considered a private trail. The trail cuts through thick second-growth evergreens sprinkled with madrones. There are lots of mild ups and downs only a couple of longer inclines. Make sure to glance to your left to glimpse the south face of Mt. Erie, maybe even with climbers in action. (You’re more likely to hear them than see them.)
Within 20 minutes you’re here, overlooking Lake Campbell and its evergreen-forested mid-lake island.
The trail runs all the way to Whistle Lake, but that’s a project for another longer hiking day.
#247 Northbound (from #248)
1.6 miles roundtrip / 40 min. (give or take 5 min. to catch photos [and my breath])
Description: Sunny with forested pockets, rocky trail in spots
Views: Mt. Erie and Lake Campbell
Directions: See above for #248 that connects with #247.
Turn left off #248 for a mostly sunny hike that rewards immediately with a view of Lake Erie and the San Juans beyond.
There are plenty of ups and downs to keep this trail interesting. But most interesting are features like the “sculpture garden” mid-trail comprised of a tumble of large rocks. if you’re lucky, a little further on, you’ll see someone learning to climb along a 30-foot rockface of Erie, close at hand.
Even further along, after pushing up a minor hill, an old big leaf maple has stretched and bent along its neighboring rock wall. It’s especially striking at spring or fall when the leaves are glowing with color.
As you walk, keep glancing up to the madronas perched on the cliff face or even catch a glimpse of a climber mid-climb.
All along the trail, pay attention to where you place your feet, especially in fall when the trail is buried in dinner plate-sized maple leaves. This trail is rocky and could be an ankle-turner if you’re not watching. But it’s virtually never muddy, which is great for November days when it’s been raining mercilessly and you want to grab more sunshine than can penetrate deep into most of the Forestlands trails.
If you do the full roundtrip of the northbound trail, you’ll have deserved a rest on the bench that overlooks Lake Erie. A stand of madronas balances out the view of overhead power lines that stretch across the lake.
#247 from the north “trailhead”
1.6 miles roundtrip / 40 min. to #248 connector; 3.2 miles roundtrip / 1.5 hrs. to Lake Campbell overlook on southbound/eastbound leg
Views: Lake Erie, Mt. Erie and Lake Campbell
Directions: From Anacortes, drive south out of town on H Avenue, which becomes Heart Lake Road. From Hwy. 20, turn west on Lake Campbell Road, then right at the Lake Erie Grocery. Park on the west shoulder of Heart Lake Road just north of the “twin trees” (1/2 mi. north of the Lake Erie Grocery), then walk across the road to the trail adjacent to the east tree.
This entrance is the secret to taking this shaded/sunny trail and avoiding the BIG HILL (trail #248). This is also a rewarding way to start as you immediately encounter a rock wall with falling water and dripping springs and ferns, then a shady forest glen before reaching the sunnier portions of the trail. (See above for the full description of Trail #247.)
This hike is even a good one in the snow, once you know the trail. If you don’t know it, it could be dangerous, as the trail is narrow and a bit tricky in places. I’ve done it once in snow and it was beautiful – snow covering rock slides and madrone trees, ferns laced with white. If the snow blows in from the west, the mountain takes a direct hit and you’ll see more snow here than on other Forestlands trails where the heavy canopy of cedars and firs protect the trails.