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Photo by Annie Crookshank
Hugging the coast of the Haro Strait on the San Juan Island lies the small but mighty Mount Finlayson, standing only 285 feet tall and covered in a coat of native grassland. The Mount Finlayson trail begins at the Jackle’s Lagoon Trailhead in the San Juan Island Historical National Park and spans a three-mile loop around the southern tip of the island. The trail begins weaving through trees at a slight incline, but after 500 feet or so it opens up to a field of wildflowers and tall grass with unobstructed views of the Cascade Mountains’ gleaming glaciers and the Haro Strait.

The remainder of the trail winds through the open grass field with little to no shade and a clear view of the strait and the cascades, making whale watching a definite possibility. As I learned the hard way, sunscreen for your shoulders is an absolute must.

"If you listen closely, just past the whistling of the tall grass, the bark of harbor seals can be heard echoing from the coastline below."

Annie Crookshank
After 1.3 miles there is a seemingly harmless hill with a few switchbacks, but once the top is reached you can say you have conquered Mount Finlayson.
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Photo by Annie Crookshank
From atop the peak, the previous views are enhanced. Looking to the north, Victoria, B.C. is in clear view, and if you listen closely, just past the whistling of the tall grass, the bark of harbor seals can be heard echoing from the coastline below. As you continue onward, the trail descends and loops back towards the trailhead after the peak. If you continue quietly, however, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the San Juan wildlife. During my trip I was able to see a fox, a bald eagle and deer, which happened to be much more shy than the deer we see on campus. The trail itself is well maintained and rather flat with few inclines, making it accessible for people of all ages and a perfect family hike. If you crave more adventure, the Jackle’s Lagoon Trailhead has two more trails that lead to Jackle’s Lagoon and Third Lagoon for a beachside trek.

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