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Anacortes Community Forest Lands - Little Cranberry Lake

Puget Sound and Islands


Puget Sound and Islands -- Whidbey Island
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1.5 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 125 ft.
Highest Point: 250 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee


Set off for a hike in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL), a 2,800-acre preserve within the city limits of Anacortes.

These lands hold 20 miles of trails and are the beloved treasure of local residents. Originally a pond, the lake was dammed in the early 1900s. You'll actually cross over the dam at the north end of the lake on your hike. In 1921, a portion of the dam gave way, and the waters of the lake poured northward into the bay, temporarily trapping workers in shoreline canneries.

With ten different access points in the neighborhoods surrounding Little Cranberry Lake, this destination is a great option for people living in or visiting friends in Anacortes. The trailhead accessible via the graveled Cranberry Lake Road has room for 15 to 20 cars, and its proximity to benches and views of the lake make it a great option for picnickers.

A trailhead kiosk holds a trail map, but you can buy ACFL maps at the parks department, the Anacortes visitors center or at several local stores, and you definitely need one to navigate the network of trails that crisscross this park.

It is possible to do a 1.73 mile loop around the lake, but note that the trail on the east side of the lake is quite close to the water—in some places footing is tricky, and it may not be a great option for those with small children. However, there are plenty of lakeside spots near the north end of the lake that make great destinations for families and little explorers.

If it’s a loop you want, and you're confident in your footing, follow Trail 100 over the spillway near the parking lot and past the deck, stopping to snap a picture of the lake from the wooden overlook. Continue on Trail 100 around a small inlet full of logs, then turn left and uphill onto Trail 103.

Switchback up and then traverse this trail for a half mile, passing through madronas and cedars along a ridgeline above the lake. Once there was a view of the lake here, but the trees have grown up enough that your first good views only come on your descent. Once you reach a junction, turn right, and at a “T” intersection at the lakeshore, turn left, following a bridge over a swampy area on Trail 132. This is the connection between Little Cranberry Lake and Big Beaver Pond.

Once over the bridge, the trail becomes slightly more rugged, dipping very near the lake at points and becoming more brushy than it has been so far. Hike along Trail 132 and then bear right onto Trail 101, which stays close to the west side of the lake. The quality of trail improves as you near the north end of the lake. Picnic opportunities abound here, with slabs of rock and moss providing good places to rest, recline and take in the views under bright madrone trees. After hiking a little more than a half-mile, find yourself back at the parking lot, and your car.

The trail is edged with salal and mixed second-growth forest. Small boggy islands in the lake contain distinctive wetland plants such as bog cranberry, bog laurel and Labrador tea. Keep an eye out for signs of beaver or river otter, and bring binoculars to identify waterfowl.


Anacortes Community Forest Lands - Little Cranberry Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.5042, -122.6449 Open map in new window


Puget Sound and Islands -- Whidbey Island

City of Anacortes

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Guidebooks & Maps

USGS Juniper Beach

Getting There

From Interstate 5 north of Seattle, take State Route 20 west to Anacortes. When you reach town, turn right on Commercial Avenue, and then left on 12th Street, following the signs to the San Juan Island ferries. After you start to parallel the water, turn left on Georgia Avenue (streets are alphabetical), and turn right at the Cranberry Lake sign. Follow this graveled road to reach the parking lot.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Anacortes Community Forest Lands - Little Cranberry Lake

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