Zylstra Lake Preserve

San Juan Island

Year protected: 2015

Land protected: 313 acres

Hiking Trails: ~2+ Miles

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Owned and managed by the San Juan County Land Bank and protected forever by a conservation easement held by the Preservation Trust, Zylstra Lake Preserve opened for day-use public access in September 2020 with a ribbon-cutting for a 1.3 mile (approximately) year-round loop trail. The following spring, an additional section of seasonal trail opened.

The seasonal trail, open from April through September annually, completes a full circuit around the lake, for a little over 2 miles of trail in total. The trail is mostly flat where it skirts the 52-acre upper lake, with some gentle grades in the SW loop section near the lower lake.

The trail begins at the parking area off San Juan Valley Road, just before the road makes a 90-degree northward turn. The agricultural fields surrounding much of the upper lake support local food and hay production. More than 100 species of birds have been observed in and around the lake, forests, thickets, and grasslands of Zylstra Lake Preserve, making it an excellent destination for bird watching at any time of the year, though the wintering waterfowl on the lake represent a unique opportunity for bird watchers. So bring your binoculars!

Catch-and-release fishing is permitted from the dam during open season (with a state fishing permit).

Access limitations:

  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Daytime and pedestrian use only.
  • Dogs allowed April–September only, and must be on leash.
  • Take nothing, leave nothing.
  • Due to water-quality issues, swimming, kayaking, etc., are not permitted.

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