This is a nice flat, graveled walk along a dike in Anacortes. Fields on one side the bay on the other. Plenty of shorebirds to see. This is a leashed hike approx. 4 miles round trip.
Plan on about 2 hrs walk time and then an option for lunch at a nearby restaurant afterwards for those up for it.
Hike on a snaking dike built by tenacious twentieth-century settlers and farmers through the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Established in 1980 to protect extensive mudflats of eel grass, the 11,000-acre preserve is a bird watcher's paradise. The trail twists and turns along sloughs, tidal flats, and salt marshes, allowing you to scope out herons, eagles, falcons, dunlins, brants, and scores of other winged residents. And in addition to the profuse birdlife, you'll be treated to unhindered views of surrounding mountains, islands, and farmland from this delightful and level path.
Begin by walking back down Second Street and then Bay View-Edison Road for 0.15 mile to the Padilla Bay shore trailhead. Roads are lightly traveled, but keep children and dogs close by. The short drop in elevation from parking lot to trailhead is the only elevation change you'll experience on this hike. Relax and enjoy this perfectly level trail for the next 2.25 miles.
From Burlington (exit 230 on I-5), head west on State Route 20 for about 7 miles, turning right onto Bay View-Edison Road (the turnoff is approximately 1.75 miles west of the SR 20/SR 536 junction). Continue north on Bay View-Edison Road for 3 miles to the trailhead, on your left. Parking is located a little farther ahead. Turn right onto Second Street, and within 200 feet turn left into the Skagit County Historical Society's large parking area. Privy available.