Spotting high, rocky cliffs across Whistle Lake while hiking in that area last month (see: Hike #12 – Heart and Whistle Lakes), I suspected that preview was but a teaser. Enticed by those cliffs, my suspicion was confirmed as we hiked along those very cliffs today.
With a maze of trails throughout the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL), because our goal was to follow the perimeter, for the most part it was obvious which trail to take when faced with another sign.
My new 2010 edition of the ACFL map for the Whistle Lake area was in my backpack, but only pulled out a couple of times when the trail led us away from the immediate edge of the lake and into a more forested area somewhere near Toot Swamp. The 2006 edition of this map is available online here – http://www.pnt.org/maps/Whistle%20Lake.pdf, and the newer edition is usually in stock at the Lake Erie Grocery.
For this hike, we began on ACFL Trail #20 as I had before, but once we reached the ACFL Kenny Oakes Trail sign, we took Trail #204 until we came to Trail #246. Following Trail #246, we later re-joined Trail #204 again. From Trail #204, we continued on to Trails #22 and then #205 until we had gone completely around the lake.
Three-quarters of a mile from the parking lot to the lake shore, approximately 2-1/2 miles around the lake, and then 3/4 of a mile back to the parking lot, it was not a particularly long hike, but the combination of good weather, beautiful scenery, great company, even stopping for a picnic along the way sure made it one of my favorite hikes.
The ACFL trail maps appear to use a rating system unique to their own. Except for Trail #20 with a rating of “easiest”, all other trails are rated as “more difficult”. Per their trail descriptions, that rating seems to be due to tree roots, rocks and steep, short hills. Yet based on trail ratings for other trails that I frequent (i.e., the Chuckanut Mountain trail system), all of the trails covered today seemed “easy”.