Cranberry Lake

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.2 miles

A trip to Cama Beach State Park is a trip back in time. Cradled within this park's 433 forested acres on Camano Island is one of the last remaining early 20th century Puget Sound family resorts. Washington State Parks acquired and restored the resort’s beachside cabins, bungalows, and boathouse back to their 1930s charm. Since opening in 2008, the park has proved to be extremely popular, yet most visitors don’t venture away from the old resort grounds. That leaves its quiet trails for you.

There are several miles of family and dog-friendly hiking trails in the park. The one leading from the old resort to little Cranberry Lake makes for a great leg-stretcher while visiting the park. From the shelter at the south end of the parking lot, find the trail heading left away from the beach. What was once the original access road to the old resort is now a quiet trail framed by large firs and maples. Much of the park consists of mature forest, which provides an excellent habitat for a myriad of wild critters.

After almost half a mile you’ll reach a trail junction and road crossing. The trail to the right is part of the work-in-progress Cross Island Trail. It leads south one mile to Camano Island State Park where several more miles of excellent trails can be accessed. For Cranberry Lake, cross the road and continue forward.

Soon you come to another junction. The trail left is a continuation of the Cross Island Trail. It heads 1.2 miles through quiet woodlands and climbs several hundred feet to Ivy Lane. Consider it for a nice extension to this hike after you return. But first, the lake awaits. Continue straight on the trail, which winds through alders and snowberry bushes. After gently climbing a small ridge, you’ll reach Cranberry Lake at the 1.1 mile mark. It’s a shallow body of water that’s not too dramatic, but come springtime its shoreline bursts with activity from nesting birds and scurrying small mammals. Enjoy the tranquility. 

Watch For: Old resort road signs

Getting there: From Seattle, follow I-5 north to Exit 212. Now travel west on State Route 532 to Camano Island, coming to a junction at 10 miles. Bear left onto NE Camano Drive and proceed for 2.5 miles. Then turn right onto S Camano Hill Road and continue for 3.4 miles to a junction with SW Camano Drive. Turn left, reaching Cama Beach State Park entrance in 2.8 miles. Turn right and you'll reach the trailhead in 0.3 mile.

Note: Discover Pass Required

Craig Romano is the author of nine Washington hiking books, including Winter Hikes of Western Washington.

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