Distance: About 2.5 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 893 ft.
Description: Make sure you have a good map of this trail, as there is a hearty network of paths you can take. You can use the Green Trails Map 41S Deception Pass (but it doesn’t have all the smaller trails and junctions on it) or see the links below for where to purchase one or print one out.
This trail begins by skirting a wetland area, and then begins seriously climbing. There will be few sections of level trail, and smaller children might get discouraged in the steepest areas. My kids liked the fungus we’ve found along the path, but otherwise it wasn’t their favorite. The forest is dark in some spots, until you reach the upper sections where there are viewpoints out to the north and west, and prettier, mossy undergrowth. Stop here to catch your breath and take in the sights before continuing your climb to the summit. You’ll want to keep an eye on the youngest children or those who tend to wander off, as some sections are exposed and lead to steep drop-offs.
The best part of this trip was reaching the top, and the satisfaction my kids got from climbing a real mountain. Plan to spend some time on the top enjoying the view over the San Juans and Whidbey Island. Mt. Erie is just to the south, providing an inspiring target for future hikes.
Directions: From Seattle take I-5 north to Burlington and take Hwy 20 westward toward Anacortes/Whidbey Island. At about 12 miles there will be a spur of Hwy 20 toward Oak Harbor and Deception Pass State Park, exit on the left. Drive for just under 2 miles and turn right on Lake Campbell Road. Drive about 1.5 miles and turn right where the Lake Erie Grocery sits. Turn right onto Heart Lake Road and drive about 1.5 miles, where there will be a turnoff and parking area for Mt. Erie trails. Park here; don’t drive on the road up to Mt. Erie viewpoint.
Links: Read my NWhikers trip report. Read a more complete write-up on the WTA site. The Whistle Lake ACFL map has Sugarloaf on it. Learn where to buy a set of hard copy maps of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands here.