New trail signs at Mitchell Hill

The multi-use hiking trails on Mitchell Hill got a major improvement last Wednesday, July 1, with the installation of 20 trail marker signs. The 312 acre trail system, acquired by the National Park Service in 2010, services hikers, bikers, and horse riders and now has a total of 24 trail signs.

“We have really enthusiastic users of this place,” said San Juan Island National Historical Park Superintendent Lee Taylor. “It’s really a unique thing in the Parks Service to get people to work together for multi-use trails.”

The Mitchell Hill trails were known for being difficult to navigate, with locals and visitors alike getting lost. The new signs designate two different loops, one longer and steeper than the other shorter and easier loop, and every sign points which way back to the Horse Trail Road parking lot.

Taylor says the signs are a collaborative effort between trail users and organizations alike. The National Park Service worked with National Parks Conservation Association who funded the signs,  which were installed by SJI Youth Conservation Corps and San Juan Island Trails Committee. NPS also works with San Juan Island Conservation Corps to clear hiking trails on Mitchell Hill.

According to Taylor, Mitchell Hill is generally uncrowded, which she believes will change with the installation of the trail signs and trailhead kiosk to be built later this summer.

“It’s an improvement because we had people who hesitated since it was confusing to hike out here,” Taylor said. “We think that they’ll be encouraged to come out.”

Mitchell Hill connects trails to English Camp and Roche Harbor Highlands which is private property that allows hiking, biking and horse riding.

Mitchell Hill will be featured in the SJI Trails Committee Know Your Island Walk Sept. 26. Watch the paper for details.