The view from the top of Mount Erie on a clear sunny day is one of the best in the area. From the parking lot just south of Heart Lake, follow the road up about 1.7 miles to the summit, a trip that takes about ten minutes. According to my GPS watch, you’ll climb from about 800 feet at the base to 1,200 feet at the top. There are a few places to pull out on the way, but drive all the way up for the most spectacular view.
A map labeling points of interest is located in front of a bench at the summit view point. From the viewpoint nearest the towers, Lake Campbell is obvious for the little island in the middle with Ala Spit visible just off the shore and almost directly behind the lake’s island. From there you can also see Hope and Skagit Islands.
From the second viewing area (walk out from the very end of the street at the top near the kiosk) you can see March’s Point with Mount Baker in the background. You should be able to easily complete the entire low impact adventure in under an hour, even if you stop at multiple spots. From the area of Sharpe Road there are some good views of the mountain.
After summiting Mt Erie by car, I got the bug to try it by trail. During a sunny afternoon, I grabbed my map and GPS watch, entered the lot, parked adjacent a line of cars and made my way towards the trail head. My plan was to follow Trail 215 to the back side of Sugarloaf Mountain and then continue to the summit. At first, the trail was pretty flat. There were plenty of things to photograph that grow well in the wet. Unfortunately, the trees provide a lot of shade, which made it harder to get good shots. But soon the trail became very steep and it seemed more like a hike than a walk. Once I’d gone way past Trail 225, I realized I’d have to back track a lot in order to get to the top by trail, so I modified my original plan and continued on towards the viewpoint at Sugarloaf Mountain.
Two last types of lichen greeted me as I wandered around the looping trail at the view point. Since I’d already gone wrong, I decided to continue along Trail 215 to the road. It was much dryer than the section opposite Sugarloaf Mountain over which I’d already traveled. At what, to me, was the end of Trail 215, I reached the Sugarloaf trailhead. But by the time I reached the next access point, I realized that I didn’t have enough time to hike to the top, so I decided to return on a different day and try again.
A few days later, I gave it another try on a day when the sky was clear but I was feeling the fatigue of the previous day’s trail run. While waiting for my GPS watch to sync with the satellite, I heard a Pileated woodpecker’s distinctive call along with water water flowing along a brook near the parking lot. This time, I headed out the same way on Trail 215, but paid better attention to the map, turning onto Trails 225, 226, 230, 207 and 216. I heard the twitter of what sounded like sparrows and further up the trail, I watched, stock still, as a Varied thrush perched mere feet from me. They are super shy so I didn’t move a muscle until it took off. Then so did I.
I noticed many of the same flora that I’d seen before, plus several new plants. Observing all the stuff adjacent the trails entire trip was a fern, fungi, moss and lichen lover’s dream. Towards Whistle Lake, it was flattish with bike tracks marking the mud.
Nearer the top, it became very steep and the trail took off in more than one direction. I decided to buck convention and head towards the light, and finally saw the sign indicating that I was near the summit. At the top, I couldn’t resist stopping for a shot of the towers visible from afar.
During the entire hour that it took me to reach the summit, I hadn’t seen a single soul! I tried to be mindful and sat at the viewpoint for about ten minutes, soaking up the serenity and a great view. On a nearby bench, someone had left yellow flowers, likely in remembrance of Jacob Calvin Jeter, who died in an accident on January 22, 2011. I read the plaque and acknowledged the memory of someone I’d never met, but who walked the same school hallways as my kids, whose loved-ones remember their loss every year on the same day that we celebrate my daughter’s birth. As I left to make my way down the mountain, I heard the call of Trumpeter swans.