Mt. Constitution Loop


This strenuous loop is a really nice way to visit several highlights in Moran State Park on Orcas Island. The route described here begins at Mountain Lake and reaches the summit of the tallest point in the San Juan Islands, Mt. Constitution, before completing the loop past Twin Lakes. From the top you will have panoramic views of the islands and on clear days Vancouver, Mt. Baker, and even Mt. Rainier.

The hike starts at picturesque Mountain Lake at an elevation of about 940ft. Across from the parking lot, the trail heads West and immediately starts climbing through a mossy dense forest. On the way to the top the trail junctions with Little Summit and Cold Springs trails which offer some alternate loop options. In the winter season you may encounter snow in this area. Not long before you reach the summit, the trees open up and the trail becomes exposed, offering stunning panoramic views.

At the summit of Mt. Constitution (2399ft) there’s a large picnic area and a stone watchtower. Enter the tower for some history of the area and climb to the top for even better views. Be careful in the winter because the stairs can be very icy!

After completing a tour of the summit (did you find the geological survey markers?), continue down to the road to find the Twin Lakes trail. The trail snakes back down through the forest, descending about 1300ft before reaching Twin Lakes. Further down the trail meets back up with the north side of Mountain Lake where you can complete the loop on the west side of the lake back to the starting trailhead.


The trails described here are open all four seasons of the year. In the winter the summit is often covered with snow although waterproof hiking boots and some warm layers are usually sufficient. The photos in the gallery below are from a winter hike of this loop.


A trail permit is not required but you must have a Discover Pass if you leave a car at the trailhead.

getting there

Visitors typically arrive on Orcas Island using the Washington State ferry system via another island within San Juan, Sidney (British Columbia), or Anacortes (Washington). From the ferry dock on Orcas Island it is a 30-minute drive to the Mountain Lake trailhead.

Mt. Constitution Road will also take you straight to the summit if you prefer to skip the hike! This road is often closed due to snow in the winter time.

Updated May 2016

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