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Stuart Island Sea Kayaking

San Juan Islands

Northern Puget Sound, Washington

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Stuart Island Sea Kayaking

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  • The crossing to Stuart Island is notorious for fast currents near Spieden Island and big water on stormy days.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • The route around Spieden Island toward Stuart Island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Corsican big horn sheep and fallow deer from Asia are among the exotic wildlife roaming Spieden Island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Spieden Island, right, and Sentinel Island, left.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • A county road leads through Stuart Island toward Turn Point Lighthouse.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Mount Baker (10,781') seen from Stuart Island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • A barge takes cement mixers to Stuart Island. The majority of the island is privately owned.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Reid Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Docks with picnic tables in Reid Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Camp in Reid Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Camping on Stuart Island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Curious objects such as this newspaper stand are scattered throughout the island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Turn Point Lighthouse is a great day hike from either Reid or Provost Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • An airstrip on Stuart Island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Turn Point Lighthouse is a great day hike from either Reid or Provost Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Turn Point Lighthouse is a great day hike from either Reid or Provost Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • The high bluffs near Turn Point Lighthouse.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Turn Point Lighthouse is a great day hike from either Reid or Provost Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • A crab shell on a piece of driftwood on Stuart Island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • A kayak rests at camp in Reid Harbor.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
  • Campfires are allowed on Stuart Island.- Stuart Island Sea Kayaking
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Secluded. Great views. Hiking opportunities. Day paddle opportunities.
Cons: 
Access can be difficult. No potable water.
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Region:
Northern Puget Sound, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Site characteristics: Water: 
Sound/Strait
Motorized watercraft allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Portage required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Water difficulty: 
Difficult / Class C
Current Local Weather:
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Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Contributor

Stuart Island is considered by many to be one of the most remote and wild islands in the San Juan's. The island is located to the north of Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor are the most obvious starting points for this journey.  The route from Friday Harbor offers a scenic 7-mile paddle up the eastern side of San Juan Island before it leads around Spieden Island on the way to Stuart. The currents and tide rips in both Spieden Channel, specifically around Limestone Point and Green Point, and the small channels between the Cactus Islands can be extremely erratic and powerful. Tide rips form throughout either route in all types of weather, and it is no place for inexperienced paddlers.

The barren southern slopes of Spieden Island offer a great view of some of the exotic wildlife that was brought to the private island in 1969 and has thrived there ever since. European sika deer, Asian fallow deer and Corsican big horn sheep are some of the species that can be seen grazing throughout the island. From the western tip of Spieden, it is a quick trip into Reid Harbor or Prevost Harbor.

The campsites on Stuart Island are broken up between both Reid and Prevost Harbors. The Cascadia Marine Trail sites are located in Reid Harbor, while the rest are located in Prevost Harbor. Stuart Island is a wonderful place to spend several days either taking smaller day trips around John Island or paddling the exposed route to Turn Point Lighthouse. Campers can also hike the 2.5 miles (one way) to Turn Point Lighthouse along the county road through beautiful forests with views of Mount Baker.

Puget Sound Lighthouses

In total, the Puget Sound is home to 19 U.S. lighthouses still standing, not all of which are currently in use. Lighthouses and light stations include (from north to south):

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