Keep Your Cool on Lopez Hill

Guided hike on Lopez Hill

Sunday, August 23rd, 1pm

Yes, it’s time again for the summer Keep Your Cool hike on Lopez Hill. Beat the heat while enjoying the cool greenery of Lopez Hill. This guided hike will meet at the parking area off Lopez Sound Road: directions to the trailhead. It’s guaranteed to be cooler than Lopez Village! We’ll probably break into two groups, one for fast walkers and one for ramblers. Please dress for the weather, wear appropriate shoes for hiking, and bring water. See you there!

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Keep your cool on Lopez Hill

Guided hike on Lopez Hill

Sunday, August 24th, 2pm

Beat the heat while enjoying the cool greenery of Lopez Hill with  friends. The “Keep Your Cool” hike will meet at the parking area off Lopez  Sound Road: directions to the trailhead. Experienced guides will walk you around this gem at whatever pace you desire, from a wafting breeze on your face to a howling gale. It’s guaranteed to be cooler than Lopez Village. Please dress for the weather, wear appropriate shoes for hiking, and bring water. See you there!

Lopez Hill featured in Craig Romano’s “Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands”

Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands by Craig Romano, has just been published by Mountaineers Books. This is a marvelous guidebook to the beaches and trails of the islands of the southern Salish Sea.

Romano’s description of the Hill and its hikes are spot-on, and he thoughtfully recognizes the Friends of Lopez Hill and our work to protect the Hill—and he includes a photo of one of our handmade trail signs!

From Romano’s blog post about the book:

“What you will find in this book… is the most comprehensive hiking guide to the heart of the Salish Sea. I treat the region as one. Most authors split the region at the international boundary-an arbitrary line, as this region is culturally, histrionically and naturally one. I include too the jumping off points to the islands as they are also culturally, historically, naturally, and economically linked to the islands. In this book you will find 136 hikes roughly split in half between Washington and British Columbia. You’ll find hikes around Anacortes, Victoria, and Point Roberts. You’ll find hikes on Lummi, Guemes, Vendovi, Sinclair, Cypress, Lopez, Orcas, Shaw, San Juan, Jones, Stuart, Patos , Matia, and Sucia islands. You’ll find hikes on Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna, Princess Margaret, Sidney, Wallace, Thetis, Newcastle and Gabriola islands.

“You will find hikes in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and the new San Juan Islands National Monument. You’ll find hikes perfect for kids, dogs, bird-watching, beach walking, whale watching and of historical interest. You’ll find information on how to navigate the islands and the international border.”

Be sure to pick up this book for inspiring summer adventures. It is in stock at the Lopez Bookshop. Myself, I’m excited to use this new book to explore more of our breathtaking islands world!

Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands

Guest post by Diana Sheridan: Spring Ramble on Lopez Hill

Lopez Island sends up its praise with rolling farmlands often fenced with hedgerows of briars and Nootka rose along the roadside and with thickets backed by towering trees lining the pasture’s distant border. The wayfaring stranger or newcomer to the island, however, could easily miss this ecological treasure that offers a taste of wilderness buried in the heart of Lopez Hill on the east side of the island where it stirs to life almost secretly from a lowland forest.

Recently I joined a delightful Spring Ramble through this island jewel.  Aware that many on the island will soon face the annual summer stream of visiting guests, I would like to recommend your own ramble through this remarkable asset, one that offers quite a different experience from the sense of wild beauty and stunning views and hikes at our other incredible asset, the shoreline National Monument sites.

Where the road comes to an end, the trail begins. Curious wanderers, we soon brush by salal and a twisting limbed alder, both stretching toward the remaining shafts of sunlight. The trail shortly narrows with its closeness of green undergrowth braided together as we amble along. We pause below trees heavy with new growth where Odlin Park’s ranger, David St. George, abruptly pauses and with his astute hearing teases out the sound of a Townsend’s warbler, the first of many birds we will encounter on this day’s journey.

We meander through a staggeringly beautiful terrain of forest, observing a pleasant mix of trees quietly breathing and quietly growing. Surrounded by a grove of alder in a wetland, an occasional hemlock tree scarred by lightning strikes of yesteryear hover over stumps frayed from rot. Our steps take us over a grand root of a cedar, re-bronzed by the wear of feet traipsing this way over the generations. Another fallen tree chisels a small bridge over a wet area, perhaps eons ago a flowing streambed. Often we glance into a tangle of branches where our eyes capture the hardened curve of parasites hugging tree trunks. Or we stop abruptly to ponder a bed of bones in the lee of a tree, where once an aging deer hunkered down amidst a bitter winter storm.

Our botanists, Adrienne Adams and Beth St. George, draw our attention to a colorful array of spring wildflowers in swaths of carpeted moss, others clinging to rocks sunk along the path’s edge. Soon the names are tripping off our tongues for Siberian miner’s lettuce, foam flower, great camas, spotted coralroot and—for me, a new one—a heart-leafed twayblade, a member of the orchid family.

As the day grows shorter, we glimpse sun-slanted fingers weaving a shadowy pattern on the bark of hemlocks and firs.  We discover, as the incline increases slightly, Rocky Mountain maple trees flourishing in place of the familiar vine maple of other northwestern landscapes. Here, lacey light cascades through the larger leaves of these maples, their branches yet another haven for birds.  Wherever we wander, our intrepid ornithologist detects high above the songs of more birds darting in the afternoon light, including the Pacific-slope flycatcher, Wilson’s warbler, red-breasted nuthatch, Pacific wren and several others.

We sprint on, ascending through wind-blown, branch-gnarled native shrubs as we head toward the fresh and cool air that greets us atop Lopez Hill. More wildflowers beckon us to appreciate their sheer beauty while we rest on large flat rock formations, possibly shards of ancient sea-ledges. At last we chat with one another now that we are out of the single-file formation the path has demanded of us all afternoon. We agree we can easily imagine the incredible views of the Salish Sea that our ancestors must have cherished when this forest was clear-cut for the growing needs of the city far to the south along its shoreline.

After this brief respite, our guides, Tim Clark from the San Juan County Land Bank and Mike Moore from the Lopez Island Trails Network, lead us down through the ochre, green and darkening sienna woods. At the parking lot we offer abundant thanks and part ways, sheathed now by the tranquil beauty of one of Lopez Island’s finest treasures.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the BLM, the Friends of Lopez Hill and the San Juan County Land Bank who have persevered in preserving this natural gem, with color-coded signs and well-maintained trails. As the days of summer approach, islanders and our summer visitors will shape their own sense of place and spirit as they hike this stunning hillside of wilderness.

Diana Sheridan

June 2014

Spring Ramble a big success

From Tim Clark, our Land Bank Steward:

“A very large thank you to everyone who made the Spring Ramble such a  large success. Twenty people had a wonderful time wandering and looking  and talking and learning. An extra thanks goes out to David and Beth for  sharing their knowledge and curiosity of the plants and birds on the  Hill! Everyone commented on what fun it was and how much they learned.  And we all made it out alive!”

Beth St. George identified the following plants in bloom:

Dovefoot Geranium
Woodland Strawberry
Spotted Coralroot
Trailing Blackberry
Bicknell’s Geranium (I think this is the correct species)
Pacific Sanicle
Candyflower = Siberian Miner’s Lettuce
Small-flowered Alumroot
Sea Blush
Bedstraw (Fragrant?)
Foamflower
Baldhip Rose
Heart-leaved Twayblade
Miner’s Lettuce
Great Camas
Buttercup species: I don’t know these well.

David and Beth’s bird list:

Cassin’s Vireo
Townsend’s Warbler
Pacific Wren
Wilson’s Warbler
Dark-eyed Junco
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Orange-crowned Warbler
Hairy Woodpecker
Song Sparrow
We must have seen American Robin, too, but I don’t have it written down!

Don’t get lost on Lopez Hill!

Join us for a Spring Ramble on Sunday, May 18th at 2:00 pm. Competent guides will unveil the dark secrets, wildflower gardens and fairy glens as they get you there and back again. This introductory walk will follow moderate hiking paths over varied terrain, ending up at the highest point on the island. Options include a two or four mile walk. Bring nature guides, dress for the weather, and please carpool from the school with your friends, as parking is limited. Directions are at LopezHillMap . Questions? Call Tim at 468-2010 during business hours, and please leave a message if I’m not there.