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South Heart Lake, a 1.65 Mile Loop on Trails 212, 210, 243 — June 2009

By Erin Meier

Here is another hike through mixed forest that’s included in the Anacortes Community Public Lands. In addition to buying the Heart Lake map, you may also want to download the WNPS plant list for Heart Lake. At the Parking area, ignore the road and trail head for Mount Erie. Save the Mount Erie hike for later, and proceed to the other side of the Heart Lake Road where you will find a sign for the Pine Ridge Loop Trail.

Follow this signage and take Trail 212 to the right. Some of the shrubs such as Rubus ursinus (Trailing Blackberry, Pojar, p.58) and Gaultheria shallon (Salal, p.53) may at times have some rather prominent venation. The veins can be gathering places for spores of fungi, or for pollen from grasses and trees like Western Hemlocks. Check it out under magnification.

After about a quarter mile, go right and downhill on Trail 210. Note the lattice work of spider webs in the fluted spaces of the cedars and the bark crevices of the Doug Firs at the beginning of this trail. The architecture of these webs suggests that the builders are members of the Linyphiidae family and many are only about 2-3 mm long. Hold a flash light near a web and probe gently with a stick near any specks seen in or underneath the web. Often the spider will retreat a few millimeters as he runs upside down on the underside of the web.

The trail descends and Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock, p.30) becomes more frequent. The trail eventually comes quite close to the edge of the lake. Bushwhack to the edge and you may find some new plants such as Malus fusca (Pacific Crabapple, p.48) and Nuphar polysephalum (Yellow Pond Lilly, p. 349). As we continue, notice the frequency of Vaccinium parvifolium (Red Huckleberry, p.57) and how it often is seen growing on the forest floor as opposed to on top of a nursing
log. As the trail brightens with more open canopy, Holodiscus discolor (Ocean spray) vies with V. parvifolium as the dominant understory shrub.

After .7 miles of Trail 210, leave it for Trail 243. Watch for cedars that seem more than a little twisted. Examination of the cedar may reveal a hollow trunk. Trientalis latifolia (Western Star Flower, p. 322) claims some sizeable patches of ground along the trail. Remain on 243 for about .11 miles at which point you will walk through a barrier and immediately switch to Trail 212 which heads uphill on your left. Do not take 212 to the right (downhill). Having the ACL maps in hand at this point will be helpful since the signage is less than perfect.

The last .6 miles is largely uneventful. Parts of the area appear to be an unsuccessful tree farm where the current understory has not done too well—perhaps the result of broken fungal relationships. Elevation change is roughly 100 feet. Obtain the Heart Lake Trail available at the visitor’s center in the old town portion of Anacortes. To reach the trail head: Where Spur 20 goes right (north) joining Commercial Avenue heading into Anacortes, take Commercial Avenue to the left. Then, turn right onto Fidalgo, and left onto O Avenue; right on 41st Street and left on H Avenue. After 1.4 miles, park in the lot which rests at the Mount Erie Trail head. For a nice lunch, try one of the restaurants on, or just off First Street in Mount Vernon between Division and Kincaid.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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