Mount Erie is gorgeous. The crags on Mount Erie are scattered on the south slope of a mini-mountain overlooking Puget Sound. Wide views take in the waters around Deception Pass, the San Juan Islands, the Olympics, and several of the Cascade volcanos. There are madrona trees, shore pines, and wild roses around the cliffs. It’s common to see eagles and turkey vultures soaring overhead.
The climbs range from easy 5th class to 5.12 with most on steep but rarely overhanging faces. The rock is some weird kind of diorite, and although there are some cracks for gear, there’s little true crack climbing. Many of the newer routes are sport climbs. There are some excellent top-rope crags near the parking area at the top of the mountain and, for many years, Mount Erie’s been a popular practice area for climbing clubs and instructional groups.
Mount Erie is a city park owned by the City of Anacortes. The city has been generally supportive of climbing. Visual impacts are minimized by the fact that most of the crags are below or unseen from the main visitor areas. There have been few other concerns associated with climbing, although erosion could become a real problem if people stray from trails.
The biggest issue at Mt. Erie is its popularity. A road leads to the top of the mountain. As a result, a lot of tourists drive up to take in the view. It’s not unusual for people to throw rocks or beer bottles off the edge of the cliffs near the summit parking area. A helmet’s not a bad idea at these areas.
These crowds mean that parking can be a problem. Parking at the mountain top is extremely limited and you should carpool, if possible. Some cliffs, including the Main Wall (Snag Buttress), are reached by hiking up from the bottom of the mountain. There’s a small parking area off Hart Lake Road, but space is limited here, too. The parking area is also close to a residential driveway. Be sure not to block the driveway and observe any property signs.
The park is closed at night. There is no camping.
Dallas Kloke’s long awaited guidebook came out in March, 2005. A second edition was released in 2013.
Mount Erie is designated community forest land, owned by the City of Anacortes.
Mount Erie is open year round. A limited spring falcon closures were imposed for many years (not in 2016) and climbers are asked to respect them if they resume. Whether her or in any climbing area, and particularly if you observe their territorial displays which frequently include dive-bombing climbers on the rocks, please report them to the land managers.
For some background information, visit Friends of Anacortes Forest Lands.
In 2012, private property owners announced their intent to log and bulid a house on a parcel that is located below the main wall cliffs at Mt. Erie. Their plan was to clearcut the property and build a house. Climbers, Anacortes Parks, and local conservation group Evergreen Islands was concerned about impact to public access as well as the environmental and aesthetic impact associated with this proposal. Evergreen Islands appealed the clear-cutting permit decision made by Island County and the WCC commented in this process. The City bought the property in January 2o05.
Calvin leads Zig Zag in mountain boots in honor of the late Dallas Kloke.
Photo by Matt Perkins.
Nathan on When the Cat’s Away, the Mice will Play.
Photo by Jim Thompson.