Whether traveling on foot, by bicycle, auto, kayak or larger boat, San Juan Island National Historical Park offers a bevy of scenic vistas. Natural and historical landscapes abound, providing windows into the natural beauty and cultural history of San Juan Island.
These features are best viewed from the redoubt. Thick deposits of glacial till can be viewed while walking South Beach east of Pickett’s Lane or looking down from Cattle Point Rd. from the observation pullouts.
Looking toward 290-foot Mt. Finlayson, the contrast between forest and grassland is striking in its abruptness. The north-facing slope is densely forested, retaining moisture, while the south-facing slope is an open prairie, exposed to the drying effects of wind and sun. From the redoubt (an earthen fortification) one gets a feeling of the historic landscape set against the backdrop of prairie, sea and sky.
American Camp dates from 1859, the time of the Pig War. The wooden officers’ quarters and laundress cabin and the white picket fence encompassing the parade ground recall the tensions of the boundary dispute when war nearly broke out over the shooting of a pig.
The redoubt also offers a regional perspective with views of Mt. Baker, the Olympic and Cascade ranges, Vancouver Island, and on an exceptionally clear day even Mt. Rainier, 130 miles up Admiralty Inlet. Sweeping views are also plentiful from the Cattle Point and Redoubt roads and Pickett’s Lane.
Did You Know?
George E. Pickett, a West Pointer and Mexican War veteran, was the first U.S. commander on San Juan Island. He would resign his commission on San Juan and go on to lead his Confederate division in the climatic charge that bears his name at the Battle of Gettysburg.