Padilla Bay Shore Trail

Northern Puget Sound, Washington

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Padilla Bay Shore Trail


  • The Padilla Bay Shore Trail north trailhead.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Padilla Bay mudflats at low tide.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Looking accross the bay at the oil refinery on March Point.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Vibrant flowers with farmland beyond.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Looking north out of the bay toward Samish Island.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • A slough running into the bay.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • A view toward the south end of the bay.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Padilla Bay mudflats.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • A Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) poised for a bite.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Big Indian Slough from one of several bench areas.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Whitehorse Mountain (6,841') and Three Fingers (6,870') across farmland to the south.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • A view east to the North Cascades foothills.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • A tent caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum) nest.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • An old cedar barn along the path.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • The Padilla Bay Shore Trail south trailhead.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Padilla Bay filling with water as the tide comes in.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • A rising tide.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • Water in the bay at high tide.- Padilla Bay Shore Trail
  • - Padilla Bay Shore Trail
Overview + Weather
Birdwatching. Diverse scenery. Level path.
High winds at times.
Northern Puget Sound, WA
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
4.50 mi (7.24 km)
Trail type: 
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


Winding along the top of a dike through the 11,000-acre Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, this level biking and pedestrian path leads through one of the most diverse and biologically productive estuaries on the Puget Sound. It’s no wonder that birders and photographers come from all over to witness such abundant wildlife in action. The scenery alone is enough to make your day, with the North Cascades rising above active farmlands to the east and bayside views out to the San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains to the west.

Both ends of the 2.25-mile Padilla Bay Shore Trail have trailheads, and although the north parking area is located 0.15 miles up the road from the bay, it is much more spacious than the south. A few steps along the level path and you will be able to see whether the tide is high or low. During low tide the bay is void of water, appearing as a barren land of mud flats and tidal puddles. In this case, keep your eyes peeled for great blue herons snacking on the exposed sea life. In colder months, you may chance upon some of the wintering raptor residents, including the peregrine and merlin falcons, or even a snowy owl.

Near the halfway point, Big Indian Slough curves into the bay below a nice pullout with interpretive signs and benches. The Tesoro and Shell oil refineries puff away on the opposite land at March Point, and Fidalgo Island and Mount Eerie provide a backdrop. Further along, the path passes a rustic barn and heads due east away from the bay. This last stretch to the south trailhead delivers some awesome sights of some of the finest peaks in the North Cascades: Mount Baker, Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(9 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(88 within a 30 mile radius)

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