Dog Woods on Guemes Island preserves a long tradition of freedom for dogs
written by Joni Kabana | photography by Alex Garland
Have you ever arrived at a trailhead hike only to discover that your furry canine companion is not welcome to join you or must be on leash the whole hike? Check out Dog Woods on Guemes Island to let your dog frolic to its sniffing’s delight.
Dog Woods is located within the Guemes Island Wildlife Corridor, a kaleidoscope of protected lands across the southern half of Guemes Island. Lands here are part of the Skagit Land Trust and San Juan Island Preservation Trust whose joint goal is to protect and preserve the environment and restore and maintain a plethora of forest, wetland, shrubland and meadow habitats that are climate-resilient.
So why would dogs be allowed to roam freely? Guemes Island was once inhabited by the Samish Indian Nation, and their name for this island was Qweng7qwengíla7, which translates to “Lots of Dogs Island.” Dogs are free to run as long as their owners keep them from bothering wildlife or disturbing other dogs or people, and they pick up after them.
The Samish people who inhabited Guemes Island raised Salish woolly dogs and sheared their long, white hair to spin for weaving, so this island has a long history of welcoming man’s best friend. Dog Woods aims to remind visitors of the Samish history in this location and pay homage to the land’s historical uses.
Meander slowly through the forest and see if you can find twelve different native tree species. Maples, firs, cherrywood and birch are just a few of the trees present here. And by all means, stop and listen to the sounds of the forest.
Getting to Dog Woods takes some effort, but the journey is beautiful at every turn. Cross over to Guemes Island via the Guemes Island Ferry and then head north on Guemes Island Road. Take a left onto South Shore Drive and stay on South Shore Drive until it makes a right. Turn onto West Shore Drive and you will see the Dog Woods sign on the right. The parking area is very small so consider walking from the ferry.
Meander slowly through the forest and see if you can find twelve different native tree species. And by all means, stop and listen to the sounds of the forest.
For more information, see www.dogwoods.info.