April 17, 2016
A leisurely 9 miles from downtown Friday Harbor, Cattle Point is a popular cycling destination for visitors to San Juan Island. The ride to this southernmost point of San Juan avoids the largest hills located in the central and western sections, without sacrificing stunning views of the water. This area is also home to the American Camp National Historic Park and visitors center, which should be at the top of the must-see list for vacationers.
Grab lunch to go in Friday Harbor and head through town up spring street. Just past Blair Avenue riders will pass the San Juan Islands Museum of Art. This exciting new addition to our island hosts 8 to 10 rotating exhibits throughout the year. For more information about the museum and current exhibits visit sjima.org. Take a left on Mullis Street, which passes by Bakery San Juan and the San Juan Island Airport before becoming Cattle Point Road. This road continues all the way down to the point, past the San Juan Island Golf Course and American Camp National Historic Park. At the turnoff to American Camp, be sure to stop and check out the visitors center and hike around the historic grounds where American Troops were stationed during the Pig War. The park is open every day from sunrise to 11:00 PM. Here, riders can enjoy a break from the saddle and wander around the trails that lead through the beautiful open prairie environment. There are several informative placards throughout the area that give hikers a better understanding of the human and natural history of the area.
Back on the bikes, riders will cycle a short distance farther to reach either South Beach or Jakles Lagoon and Mount Finlayson. South Beach is a favorite local spot for bonfires and barbecues, as well as beachcombing and family outings. Hiking up 285ft Mount Finlayson rewards visitors with a bird’s eye view of the southern end of San Juan Island, Lopez Island, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Take the 3.5 mile roundtrip hike through this trail system and enjoy a walk through the wooded area at the southern end of Griffin Bay, a popular place to go birding. In this area, hikers are sure to encounter eagles, plovers, hawks, sandpipers, and other birds.
Continuing on Cattle Point Road from the Jakles Lagoon Trailhead, riders will reach what is perhaps the most scenic section of the road, which curves along the flank of Mount Finlayson and leads down to Cattle Point. Hike out to the lighthouse or take a break at the Cattle Point Interpretive Area and enjoy your packed lunch at one of the several picnic benches in the area. Be sure to keep an eye on the water between this point and Lopez Island and notice how swift the water can move in this constricted channel! Visitors here are often rewarded with sightings of Steller sea lion, the largest species of eared seal.
After soaking up the views at Cattle Point, riders will re-trace their path 5 miles north up Cattle Point Road, enjoying an equally beautiful perspective of the area from the opposite direction. Take a left on False Bay Drive for an often-missed side route that meanders through beautiful farm valleys and the shoreline of False Bay before intersecting with Bailer Hill Road. Take a right on Bailer Hill and continue several more miles over rolling grassy meadows. At the terminus of this section, riders will take a right onto San Juan Valley Road, which drops right into downtown Friday Harbor and becomes Spring Street.