ACFL Trail #247
Trailhead: Drive south From Anacortes on H Avenue, which becomes Heart Lake Road. Trailhead parking is on the left ½ mile south of the “twin trees" (same trailhead as #248). From Hwy. 20, turn west on Lake Campbell Road, then right at the Lake Erie Grocery. The trailhead is almost immediately on the right, just after the white fenced yard. Follow trail #248 to junction with #247 (photo below left). See bottom section of this post for the North trailhead, which allows you to avoid the steep #248 climb.
Trail: Forested and hilly; connects from #248 trail with views of Lake Erie, Mt. Erie and Lake Campbell
Distance/Time: Choose to go right (southeast) or left (north), depending on your mood:
South/Eastbound - 1.5 mi. roundtrip / 40 min. - Forested trail, views of Mt. Erie and Lake Campbell; mileage based on turning around at Lake Campbell overlook
Turn right at the T with #247, you’ll walk along the south side of Mt. Erie on a trail that was just recently 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. Within 20 minutes you're at the Lake Campbell overlook and its evergreen-forested mid-lake island (photo below, right). This hike's mileage is based on turning around there - if you have more time/energy, the trail continues to Whistle Lake.
Northbound - 1.6 mi. roundtrip / 40 min. - Sunny trail, views of Lake Erie, ends on Heart Lake Road by "twin trees" (photo below center)
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. 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 south/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 (left tree in photo below).
One reward (besides avoide #248's steep hill) is the rock wall with falling water and dripping springs and ferns that you immediately see (above right), then a shady forest glen before reaching the sunnier portions of the trail. (See above for the full description of Trail #247.)