Hike of the Week: Upright Channel
Odlin Park offers autumn visitors quiet shoreline hiking
Set your hiking dial on this San Juan channel
by Craig Romano
photo by Craig Romano
produced by Michael Fagin
November 11, 2005
Location: Lopez Island
Land Agency: San Juan County Parks, Washington State Parks
Roundtrip: 3.0 miles
Elevation gain: none
Access: From Anacortes, take Washington State Ferry to Lopez Island. Proceed one mile on Ferry Road and turn right (west) into Odlin County Park.
November is a great time to explore the San Juan Islands. There is never a line to get on the ferries. Accommodations are offered at great discounts over summer rates. And chances are good that you’ll be able to hike the island’s trails and beaches in solitude. Solitude from people that is-for plenty of resident deer, otters, eagles, oystercatchers, seals, and maybe even an orca or two will remind you that you aren’t really alone out here.
While Orcas Island with sprawling Moran State Park, has a reputation for having the best trail system on the San Juan Islands-it doesn’t offer much for beach hiking. Head to Lopez if its shoreline sauntering that you seek.
Odlin Park on the island’s northern tip offers some of the best beach hiking on the archipelago. Consisting of 80 acres of prime beachfront property, Odlin protects over 4,000 feet of shoreline along Upright Channel. And beyond the park another mile of public beach can be walked to Upright Channel State Park.
Begin your wanderings from Odlin’s boat launch. Walk west along a nice sandy beach bordered by the park’s open playfields and campground. Soon, enter an isolated beach tucked beneath steep forested bluffs. Hike this quiet section of San Juan shoreline scanning the large overhanging firs for majestic eagles. Gaze out at the channel waters for pelagic birds, harbor seals, and the occasional state ferry passing by.
At Upright Channel State Park, hike inland along the park’s ½ mile trail or continue along the beach to Flat Point. Now retrace your steps back to Odlin. If you still feel like roaming, the county park offers a couple of hiking trails through its lush forested uplands. A few big firs grace the grounds and deer are always present. One thing you probably won’t run into though is another hiker.
Special Note: We are free to hike this great land this Veteran’s Day Weekend. Be sure to thank our Veterans for defending this freedom