Mount Constitution is the highest point within the San Juan Islands and is a popular hiking spot on Orcas Island. Located in the heart of Moran State Park’s extensive network of hiking trails, the Mt Constitution hike is challenging with rewarding panoramic views at the summit. Moran State Park is home to a multitude of well maintained hiking trails covering the span of over 30 miles with difficulty levels ranging from easy to challenging.
Orcas Island offers visitors an array of outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, kayaking, orca whale watching and shopping in Eastsound. This guide to hiking Mount Constitution on Orcas Island includes everything you need to know before you go!
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Quick Facts About the Mount Constitution Hike
Length of Hike: 6.7 miles roundtrip
Duration: 4-5 hours for the entire loop
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet with the highest point at 2,410 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult depending on where you start; Some level of physical fitness recommended
Biking Allowed: Yes, but only seasonally
Dogs Allowed: Yes, but must be on a leash
Pass or Permit Required: Yes, because it is in a National Park (all the details below)
Where is the Mount Constitution Hike Located?
Mount Constitution is located within Moran State Park on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Situated off the northwestern coast of Washington State, Orcas Island is the largest island within the San Juan Archipelago.
The 6.7 mile loop trail is surrounded by nature and a thick wooded forest. The trail is all natural with the exception of a few wooden bridges or paths so be sure to watch your step for exposed roots or muddy areas.
Where is the Mt Constitution Orcas Island Trailhead?
There are a few different trails that will lead to the summit of Mount Constitution. If you want to do the full trail loop with a distance of 6.7 miles roundtrip you can park at Mountain Lake and begin the trek from the picnic area.
From the Mt Constitution trail head you will begin your ascend up the mountain along a moderately wide natural path. Eventually converging with the Little Summit trail, you will complete the final 1.9 miles to the summit. Continue your climb uphill along the wooded terrain until you reach the top of Mount Constitution.
At the top there will be incredible look out points including a stone tower with panoramic views of the nearby islands. Along the way you will be rewarded with glimpses of surrounding islands and the ocean.
To complete the Mt Constitution loop you will cross the parking lot to begin your descent down the mountain. The nature trail passes by Twin Lakes, looping back around to the parking lot at Mountain Lake.
Tip: You can also hike the trail in reverse, or clockwise, for a slightly easier uphill trek.
Below is an Orcas Island map with the main Mount Constitution points pinned. You can click the star next to the name of the map below to save it for reference!
Can You Drive to the Top of Mount Constitution?
Yes, you can drive all the way up to the top of Mount Constitution in Moran State Park. At the top there will be a parking area and restrooms. The road leading up to the summit of Mt Constitution is open year round with the exception of inclement weather such as heavy snowfall.
What Can You do at Mount Constitution Washington?
The real highlight of hiking or driving to the summit of Mount Constitution is to see the incredible 360° views over the San Juan Archipelago and surrounding mountains.
We actually started our hike up to the summit of Mount Constitution from the Little Summit trail head. There is a small parking area there where you can hike the final 1.9 miles to the top of the mountain. We chose not to do the full Mt Constitution loop because we had my baby niece in a hiking backpack and felt the 6.7 mile loop would be a bit too long.
Can you Hike Mount Constitution with Kids?
The entire 6.7 mile loop starting at Mountain Lake, passing by Twin Lakes and making the ascent up to the summit of Mount Constitution might be a bit too difficult for smaller children. However, depending on their fitness level you could potentially start the hike from Little Summit trailhead which is shorter and less intense.
Alternatively you could have someone drop you off at the parking lot of the summit of Mount Constitution and hike downhill until you reach Mountain Lake.
Recreation Passes and Permits to Hike in Washington State
There are four different passes that you can purchase for access to the hiking trails in Washington state. While there are some areas where you can hike for free the majority of trails will require you to purchase a pass or permit. The recreation passes are the most common entry requirement for visitors hiking within the national parks, forests and state land areas.
Note: You can purchase a day pass at the entrance to the Moran State Park if you haven’t already purchased a yearly recreational pass.
The Four Different Types of Recreational Passes for Washington State Hikes are:
- America the Beautiful Interagency Pass– This pass covers entrance to over 2000 National Park recreational sites across the United States. The fee is $80 annually and can be purchased online or at a National Forest office. There is a special rate for seniors aged 62 and older. Additionally, the interagency pass is free for active duty military members.
- Northwest Forest Pass– This is a $30 annual pass which can be uses at forest service entrance sites in Washington and Oregon. You can purchase online or at the National Forest office.
- Day ePass and National Forest Recreational Day Pass– Cost is $5/car and you have the option to purchase the ePass and print it at home.
- Discover Pass– The Discover pass costs $10/day or $30/annually and is required to park at Washington State Parks. The pass can be transferable between two cars. To find out more information or purchase the Discover Pass click HERE.
For all the details about recreational passes and hiking permits you can visit the Washington Trails Association website HERE.
When to Go Hiking at Mount Constitution
The trails in Moran State Park, including Mount Constitution, are open year round to hikers. Only some of the trails are open seasonally for bikers and horse back riding. The best time to go hiking up to the Mount Constitution summit is during the spring, summer and fall months. The air temperatures are more pleasant and you’ll have higher chances of clear skies.
Moran State Park is open from 6:30am to 10 pm in the summer and 8am to dusk in the winter.
How to Get to Orcas Island
To get to the Orcas Island ferry you will first need to drive to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal which is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours north of Seattle via I-5. From the Anacortes Ferry Terminal you will drive onto the boat and park your car.
There is a passenger lounge area upstairs on the Orcas Island ferry with a cafe, restrooms and an outdoor deck to take in the views. There are also large puzzles scattered around on various tables for passengers to complete during the 1.5 hour journey to Orcas Island.
The Orcas Island ferry cost varies due to a number of different factors such as number of passengers, age of passengers, vehicle type and the route you will be taking. You can make a reservation online through the official website or their app. Make your reservation as soon as possible at they book up pretty quickly. Through the online reservation system you will easily enter all your information and then a list of available sailing times will appear. Select which time you want and proceed to the payment section to confirm your booking.
Good to Know: It is advised to make a reservation for the Orcas Island ferry especially in the busy summer months to guarantee you have a spot on the boat. With a reservation you need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure. Without a reservation you should arrive up to 2 hours before.
You can also leave your car parked at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal but just know that there are limited parking spots available.
HERE you can find the Anacortes ferry to Orcas Island schedule via the Washington State Department of Transportation website.
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- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Prime lens: Sony 85mm f/1.8
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
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