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Mountain Bike Bill, Get the Dirt on the Dirt

Whistle Lake, Anacortes WA

Whistle Lake is considered to the most physically and technically challenging of the three areas of the 2,800 acre Anacortes Community Forest Lands tucked away in the northwest corner of Washington. There are miles and miles of fun single track out in this area but they are certainly not freebies. You have got to earn them. The good news is what goes up must come down. The number of trails in this area is simply bewildering and it is hard to go more than a third of mile without having a trail junctions to think about. If the awesome trails are not enough for you the killer scenery and the abundance of wildlife should peak your interest.
 
Whistle Lake Area of AnacortesMAP: Just like I recommended for Cranberry Lake, the first thing you need to do is swing by a local bike shop or city hall in town and drop $10 to get the 3-pack of maps for the ACFL. These excellent maps are way better than any GPS out here. I have stared at more than a few maps over the years and I can assure you these are great maps and coupled with even the slightest bit of common sense and you should have no problems navigating your way through the forest. Overview KML File
 
Directions: The maps will also guide you from just about any place into town to the numerous trailheads for the ACFL. Put the address in for the Skagit Cycle Center (1620 Commercial Ave , Anacortes , WA) for you favorite map site or navigation gizmo and it will get you to town as well as place you can get a map pack. Park at the parking lot for Heart Lake as you can access the Whistle Lake Trails from here as well.
 

Route Recommendations: Here are a couple recommended routes that will make no sense until you pick up a map. Starting from Heart Lake parking area, cross Heart Lake road go:

  • 313-21-226-230-21-204-20-21-27-202-231-232-Right on 300-304-312-Back to 313
  • 313-21-300-231-Straight/Right on 202 over Sugar Cube -204-21-202-231-232-303-Left on 302-305-306-308-311-316-304-312-Back to 313.
 
Ride Report: I had been to the Cranberry Lake area the week before and I was ready to check out more of the single track goods in Anacortes. If you are a follower of my blog you will certainly see that its very close in presentation to that orginal post. There is no way to see all the good stuff here in a single loop. You will have to make a couple climbs a couple of times to get the full tour. It is absolutely worth it.
 
Whistle Lake Area of Anacortes
For the way I started out, I did quite a bit of climbing before I made it over the actual Whstle Lake. It is very pictureques Lake but it hard to see the full scope of the lake in most places. The view above is of west corner of the Lake from the Star Wars (204) trail.
 
Whistle Lake Area of Anacortes
Another view from along the exceptional sweet 204 trail. What is not seen here is that the lake is sharply down and to the right.
 
While on one of the trails near the top of “Sugar Cube” I had an incredible critter encounter. As I rounded a corner a bald eagle flew up from the trail where it had recently whacked some small furry critter and had it for lunch. It flew up into a nearby tree and started checking me out.
 
Whistle Lake Area of Anacortes
While it looked concerned with me a first, it soon seemed to figure out that I meant it no harm and seemed rather comfortable with my presence. Over the next five minutes I would go through a series of snapping pictures and moving a little closer until this incredible bird of prey decided it had better things to do.
 
Whistle Lake Area of Anacortes
This eagle is bigger than it looks. I'm guessing that those talons if out stretched would be about the size of an average man's hand. Simply impressive. This was one of the most amazing critter encounters I have ever had in the woods.
 

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Additional photos from my eagle encounter.

 
Whistle Lake Area of Anacortes

An hour or so later in the ride I would once again have another cool critter encounter. This time it was with a spotted owl and the sequence of events was similar to that of the eagle.

 

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Additional photos from one of the two encounters I had with spotted owls. The picture on the far right was take on trail 212 in the Heart Lake area.

 

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Don't miss the view point off of the 306 trail.

 

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These photos are from the 202 trail on the south side of "Sugar Cube"

 
Whistle Lake Area of Anacortes
I love checking out the “Back 40” wherever I go. On this day that looked to be the south side of the lake. The trails (205) over here were much steeper and trickier with more roots and rocky sections. I did not try trail 245 or 217 but I wish I had. While I only did the south side of the lake trail going from west to east, it can certainly be done in the other direction and it may even be better going east to west.
 

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These photos are from the south side of Whistle Lake.

 

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I took trail 205 on the east side of Whistle Lake which was cool. I think that taking trails 217 and 245 may have been more interesting as well as gaining some additional mileage. Guess I'm going to have come back here. :)

 
Whistle Lake Area of Anacortes
 
Near the northern end of the area is a hill called Little Round Top. There are numerous options for descending down from this hill. I really like trails 316 and 300.
 

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Stuff along the 204 trail which I believe the locals refer to as Starwars as you sometimes feel like are zippying between the trees on Endor. You definitely want to come in from along the junction of 202 and 21 as this will get some killer flow in the mostly downhill direction.

 
It would be a really big feat to ride all of the stuff in a single day as it takes multiple loops of climbing to the top of several hills that can work the legs over really well. I did as many climbs up the hills as I could stand and still did not get to all of the trails. I finished the day with my legs thoroughly shot and a big smile on my face.