Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Little Cranberry Lake Trails - Anacortes Community Forest Lands

Well, we had to adjust our plans to go to Heybrook Lookout yesterday (the 17th of April). The weather forecast had shown sunshine on Sunday for most of the week, until the weekend arrived and suddenly there was more rain! The temps looked cold with a 50% chance of rain up near Skykomish, so we decided to head to Anacortes and hike at Little Cranberry Lake instead.

A cormorant on Little Cranberry Lake

If you are planning to hike here, you definitely want to have a map with you to help you navigate the trails. Almost all of them have numbers, but you will be very lost if you don't have a map to help you figure out where you are and where you want to go! :-)

Parking is minimal, so it may be a good idea to try to hit these trails on a weekday or an off season weekend when there is not so much competition. There were a couple of other cars besides ours in the parking lot when we arrived at 12:30pm. We saw a dozen or so other groups of people - boating, trail running, hiking and mountain biking. Most of the trails are open to hikers, bicycles and horses, but a few are hiker only and some of them do allow motorbikes (according to the signs,although we didn't see any).

There are several miles of trails - maybe 6 or 7 miles in total would be my best guess. We probably hiked about 5 or 6 miles. There were areas of mud and standing water as well as a few downed trees that were across the trail. It was all easy to get through, over or around without too much difficulty though. There are a few trails that have some elevation changes....but it's not to hard to stick to the flatter trails if that is what you want.

View of the lake from the mine

We started from the parking lot and went around the east side of Little Cranberry Lake and made our way up to the old mine. You can go in a short way before it is blocked off. Kind of neat to explore....make sure you have a flashlight of some sort if you plan to check it out!

Here are the kids "posing" in front of the mine

Inside the mine with a flashlight

After leaving the mine we followed the trail back to the main trail along the east side of Little Cranberry Lake. The trail is pretty rocky and eroded in places along the lake.

We continued until we got to the south end of the lake where we stopped and sat on some rocks to eat our lunch. We saw an otter swimming in the water while we ate. After we had lunch we kept walking south past Big and Little Beaver Ponds until we got to Mitten Pond (more like Mitten Puddle :)

A small beaver dam

Big Beaver Lake - lots of lily pads!

This is Mitten Puddle...I mean pond ;-)

When we got to Mitten Pond we headed off to the West and worked our way back around to the west side of Little Cranberry Lake and back to the car.

It was a great hiking day! The weather was sunny, but chilly...I don't think it got out of the 40's, but we stayed warm moving!

Animal life that we saw: cormorants, one varied thrush, ducks, snail, banana slugs and otter.

Banana slug crossing....

The snail was larger than other ones I've seen around here.

Here is a link to all of the native plants that can be found around Little Cranberry Lake.

We saw several Fairy Slipper Orchids:

Some Harsh Indian Paintbrush just starting to bloom:

Lots of Broadleaf Stonecrop:

 Not sure what this is, but I thought it was pretty:

One more salmon blossom (can't wait for these to be ripe!), with a tiny visitor on board:

And.....my lichen and fungus collection :-)

A few more pictures on the trail.....

My oldest working hard to fall in....

Until next time.....happy trails!

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