Whether you’re chasing a warm pebble beach, a grassy meadow or a green forest, you’ll find it at Saddlebag Island.
Among the easternmost of the San Juan Islands, Saddlebag sits between Padilla Bay and Guemes Island and is only accessible by boat. Its low-slung mass is often thought of as a North Puget Sound island, and not part of the San Juan chain.
Like many Puget Sound islands, Saddlebag offers crabbing and fishing. The island’s proximity to Padilla Bay, a National Estaurine Sanctuary, means wildlife sightings are common. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons are known to frequent the area, and harbor seals rest beneath Saddlebag’s stony cliffs. (Please stay at least 100 feet away and do not disturb them; doing otherwise is illegal.) April and May bring a profusion of wildflowers that light up the meadows. Motorized water sports are permitted here, so don’t forget water skis!
This park is a 4-mile kayak from Anacortes through Guemes Channel, a strenuous day trip or a solid overnighter, and the area around Dot Island is very shallow, so kayak is king. After your exploration by land or by water, pull up a camp chair, grill up the catch of the day, and enjoy this San Juan island outlier.
Saddlebag Island is a 26-acre marine park located in Padilla Bay with 6,750 feet of shoreline. The park is named for the two rocky knobs separated by a narrow “saddle” of land that form the shape of the island.
Saddlebag Island State Park is located on Puget Sound in Skagit County. There are no mooring buoys or docks available at the park.
The north bay provides the most wind protection and the bay's bottom consists of mainly of sand and gravel with some bigger rocks spread throughout the bay. Access to the island is gentler and easier from the north bay.
The south bay beach has many logs, and a steep step incline make access to the camping area more difficult. The southwest winds make the south bay rougher and will push boats around.
The waters in Padilla Bay fluctuate due to the tides. Be aware of the tides to keep your boat from becoming "high and dry."
Latitude: 48° 32' 3.84" N (48.5344) Longitude: 122° 33' 17.97" W (-122.5549)
Saddlebag Island was originally mapped by the United States Exploring Expedition of 1841 led by American explorer and naval officer Charles Wilkes. The island was labelled by Wilkes as one of the “Porpoise Rocks,” (the other two being the present-day Dot and Huckleberry Islands). The origin of the name Saddlebag is unknown, but it likely derives from the shape of the island.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission purchased Saddlebag Island from a private citizen for use as a park in 1974.