Monday, August 07, 2006

The Tommy Thompson Trail Anacortes, Washington

Another great rails-to-trails success, the best part of this just-over-three mile path is the final two miles. If you are on a bike, go ahead, do it all. From I-5, go west on Highway 20 toward Anacortes. Drive into Anacortes on the Highway 20 spur and turn right into the Safeway parking lot near 12th St. Unload your bike, cross Q St and turn right on the paved path.

If you are on your feet, you may want to skip the first mile or so that travels through an industrial area. For the “best” two mile stretch, travel toward Anacortes, turn right on R St. and take the first right onto 34th St. After .3 mile, just before the road begins to curve left, look for the trail on either side of the street. Park at the curb and head away from the huge boat construction building and toward Fidalgo Bay.

The trail here soon parallels the shore of the bay, while salmonberries, blackberries and other vegetation climb the hill to your right. Take a look on top of the pilings and in the water for pelagic cormorants. We spotted a lone California quail perched on the fence of the only residence along this stretch of the path. Mt. Baker may be visible, depending on the weather.

After a mile, you will pass through the Fidalgo Bay RV Resort and then start out the Weaverling Spit. On your left is a woodsy expanse in which firs and madrone harbor song sparrows, cedar waxwings, and chestnut-backed chickadees. If thistle is in bloom, watch for the bright yellow American goldfinch. Several plants have taken hold in the rocky sides of the spit and you will see wildflowers into July.

Soon you reach the highlight of the trip, the old 2000-foot railroad trestle, overlaid with new decking, across Fidalgo Bay. You might spot kingfishers, heron or western sandpipers waiting on the rocks for the tide to go out. Benches on the spit and trestle offer a place to sit a spell and soak up the scenery. The path ends at the east shore of the bay.

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