Travel Advisory: Find latest FERRY and COVID information here

Great Hikes On Orcas Island

Orcas Island, also called the "Emerald Isle,"  is full of shady paths, water view summits, and meandering beach walks. Explore these favorites!

We'd like to acknowledge the Coast Salish peoples as the first stewards of these islands whose traditional lands and waters include the San Juan Islands and surrounding Salish Sea.   

Stop 1
Mount Constitution
Stop 2
Turtleback Mountain
Stop 3
Obstruction Pass State Park
MAP
Previous
STOP 1
Next
Mount Constitution

If you want the challenge of a steep hike and the reward of breathtaking views, grab your hiking boots and a packed lunch and head to Mount Constitution in Moran State Park, the highest point in the San Juan Islands—2,409 feet. It’s not a hike to be rushed, however, as there is a lot to appreciate on the way up. Hike from the cool shade of old-growth forest to sunshine and wildflowers in alpine meadows.

From the summit, you’ll have 360-degree views of the San Juan Islands, Vancouver, and the mainland, bracketed by snow-tipped Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. Enjoy an added touch of historical interest in the watchtower, built from hand-cut stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936.

If you have small children or just fancy something less strenuous, there are a multitude of easier hikes farther down the mountain. Or arrange to be dropped off at the top and have someone pick you up at the bottom for a leisurely downhill hike.

There is a paved road all the way up Mount Constitution, so consider parking partway up for a leisurely and beautiful three-mile stroll around Mountain Lake—you can even jump in for a cooling swim. Beyond Mountain Lake, trails lead out to Cascade Falls and Twin Lakes. With over 38 miles of trails, 5,200-acre Moran State Park offers something for every fitness level.

Over 38 miles of trails
Some wide & relatively flat trails (Mountain Lake Loop, Cascade Falls Trail, Cascade Lake Loop))
Steep & strenuous trails (Mount Constitution Loop, North Boundary Loop, Sunrise Rock)
MAP
Previous
STOP 2
Next
Turtleback Mountain

The distinctively shaped Turtleback Mountain is a much-loved area for hikers—at 1,520 feet, the second-highest summit in the islands. For hikers and nature lovers, that translates into fantastic views and fascinating flora and fauna. The south-end approach, up the turtle’s “head,” is for those willing to tackle a steep ascent. You’ll enjoy wide-open vistas for much of the climb, but this also means more exposure to the sun.

For those less inclined to pant up an exposed climb, choose the north ascent. Here, conifer forest and wetlands replace the grasslands and Garry oaks of the south face.

8 mile trail network of mostly wide trails (see map)
Steep sections
Mix of logging roads & narrow paths
MAP
Previous
STOP 3
Next
Obstruction Pass State Park

Obstruction Pass is a small gem for those seeking the atmosphere of a wilderness escape. Situated at the far southeastern tip of Orcas, Obstruction Pass offers 80 acres of parkland to explore plus 10 primitive campsites. The main trails run well under a mile through lush vegetation and forest.

The easterly trail leads to a 150-yard beach unique in the islands, covered with marble-sized multicolored pebbles—as well as views of Lopez Island, Blakely Island, and Obstruction Island. The westerly trail ends in a panoramic water view and great picnic site.

1.9 miles roundtrip with 305ft elevation gain
Narrow trail with exposed roots leading to a beach
Mount Constitution
Turtleback Mountain
Obstruction Pass State Park

If you want the challenge of a steep hike and the reward of breathtaking views, grab your hiking boots and a packed lunch and head to Mount Constitution in Moran State Park, the highest point in the San Juan Islands—2,409 feet. It’s not a hike to be rushed, however, as there is a lot to appreciate on the way up. Hike from the cool shade of old-growth forest to sunshine and wildflowers in alpine meadows.

From the summit, you’ll have 360-degree views of the San Juan Islands, Vancouver, and the mainland, bracketed by snow-tipped Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. Enjoy an added touch of historical interest in the watchtower, built from hand-cut stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936.

If you have small children or just fancy something less strenuous, there are a multitude of easier hikes farther down the mountain. Or arrange to be dropped off at the top and have someone pick you up at the bottom for a leisurely downhill hike.

There is a paved road all the way up Mount Constitution, so consider parking partway up for a leisurely and beautiful three-mile stroll around Mountain Lake—you can even jump in for a cooling swim. Beyond Mountain Lake, trails lead out to Cascade Falls and Twin Lakes. With over 38 miles of trails, 5,200-acre Moran State Park offers something for every fitness level.

The distinctively shaped Turtleback Mountain is a much-loved area for hikers—at 1,520 feet, the second-highest summit in the islands. For hikers and nature lovers, that translates into fantastic views and fascinating flora and fauna. The south-end approach, up the turtle’s “head,” is for those willing to tackle a steep ascent. You’ll enjoy wide-open vistas for much of the climb, but this also means more exposure to the sun.

For those less inclined to pant up an exposed climb, choose the north ascent. Here, conifer forest and wetlands replace the grasslands and Garry oaks of the south face.

Obstruction Pass is a small gem for those seeking the atmosphere of a wilderness escape. Situated at the far southeastern tip of Orcas, Obstruction Pass offers 80 acres of parkland to explore plus 10 primitive campsites. The main trails run well under a mile through lush vegetation and forest.

The easterly trail leads to a 150-yard beach unique in the islands, covered with marble-sized multicolored pebbles—as well as views of Lopez Island, Blakely Island, and Obstruction Island. The westerly trail ends in a panoramic water view and great picnic site.

Post Hike Reward

Treat yourself to delicious local fare after a day of hiking!

Eat Up!
Contact Us:
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
info@visitsanjuans.com
1-888-468-3701 | (360) 378-9551
P.O. Box 1330, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250
Subscribe to E-newsletter:
Additional Resources

Site by Drozian Webworks
©2022 San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
Privacy Policy