|Bar Island and sandbar at low tide|
This is a good hike for the whole family. It’s really more a walk than a hike. Kids can explore the exposed sand bar and no one will be too challenged by the gentle rise to the “summit” of the island (all of 120 feet above sea level.)
Caution – check tidal charts for high and low tides before crossing. If you are on the island and high tide comes, you are staying there for a while. I do not know how long the sand bar is covered before and after high tide. I have crossed twice, but both times were around low tide and the sand bar was quite wide.
Directions – From downtown
You may see ruts in the sandbar where some people have driven out onto it. You can physically do this and not get stuck during low tide when the bar is dry, but you can’t park on the bar, so it’s pretty pointless to drive onto it.
From wherever you parked walk down Bridge Street and onto the sand bar. It is not loose sand like on a beach, so you don’t have to really worry about getting sand in your shoes.
As you walk across the bar you will probably see several other people either crossing over or back, and some people exploring what creatures and treasures the tide may have left behind. At low tide the bar is quite wide, so there can be a lot to explore.
When you reach the island there will be a gate blocking anyone who did decide to drive over. The path continues up a dirt road and opens out into a field. On a sunny day this can be an excellent place for a picnic.
Continue walking along the road through the field and you will see the official trailhead on the left. It is two tenths of a mile to the top. Take this trail.
Even this section is still more a walk than a hike. It is only the last couple hundred feet that I would consider a little more strenuous than a walk. Since this is a very popular hike, you will likely meet people coming and going. Be aware that many of these people aren’t hikers and may not know the courtesies of passing others on a trail. How do I know they’re not all hikers? Both times that I’ve done this trail I’ve met people enjoying their cigarettes as they made their way along.
You will quickly come to the top of the trail. There is a very large cairn where many people have piled rocks over the years. Beyond this cairn are open ledges with views of the harbor and the mainland. Because of the number of people there you will probably need to take turns getting into position for your photos. The upside is that there should be someone there to take a complete group photo for you.
The second time I went over, though, a young man was there via a mountain bike (I’m not sure they’re even allowed on the trail) and was sitting there eating his lunch and reading a book, not even looking at the view. He was obviously on his lunch break from his job in one of the downtown shops. He was sitting right in the middle of some of the photo ops and was not inclined to move out of anybody’s way. Call it passive-aggressive photobombing.