Hike through the American Camp

Rate this Adventure Washington San Juan Island American Camp

Added by Mike Quine

The pig that almost ignited a war! As the story goes, the wrongful killing of a British pig on a strategically contested island in the Pacific Northwest, nearly jump-started a war between the two nations (again). What is left is peaceful island that preserves the remnants of this sordid past. Explore the history that is surrounded by beautiful grass fields, commanding views of the Pacific Ocean, and marvelous coastal landscapes. 

For what was once a highly contested and disputed piece of land in the Pacific Ocean, now lays home to one of the most peaceful, tranquil, and historic hikes in the island chain. 

Start the hike at the parking lot of the San Juan Island National Historic Site American Camp Visitor Center. Proceed along a short trail through the woods at the east end of the parking lot. This Historic Trail opens up to a wide clearing where a historic white building can be see surrounded by a white picket fence. The historic trail continues up to and through the white picket fence. For this adventure, instead, walk south along the white fence along the South Beach Trail. This trail proceeds south towards the waterfront, all while passing by swaying fields of grass, and unhindered views of the ocean. 

Eventually the trail breaks off along several side trails that take hikers onto the coastal beach fronts. Though this may not be a permanent feature, the beaches can be covered in countless logs that offer a fun challenge for the sure-footed. *Be mindful of your footing on these slick logs. 

If continuing along the South Beach Trail, the trails southeastern terminus ends at another parking lot along Picket Lane. From here, follow the trail north, ultimately looping back west to the white picket fence-enclosed Officer's Quarters. While on the way back, be sure to break away to admire the former canon battery as  well as the many unexpected boulders that dot the landscape.

Whether you are a history buff, a hiker, or just someone who likes to sit by the ocean in peace, this trail has what you are looking for. And for those more willing to lug a kayak along the trail (might I recommend this only for packrafters), the beaches also serve as a great place to drop in a pack raft.

*Be careful and respectful for all wild life on the island, particularly a rather tame and curious fox. Also, given the possible whale sightings from along the shore, be sure to stop and enjoy the view as always - this time you might see a whale!

Pack List

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Water
  • Packraft (optional)
  • Camera
  • Binoculars (whale watching)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Chillin, Fishing, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Running, Swimming

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



3 Miles


Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole

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Added by Mike Quine

...a year long journey through the American landscape of our National Parks. Disengaged from societal pursuits to set out alone and face the uncertainty guaranteed by the Wilderness. Hardening both hands and mind through tempered resolve.

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