AAA Editor Notes
Moran State Park is at 3572 Olga Rd., 13 mi. n.e. of the Orcas village ferry dock via Horseshoe Hwy. One of Washington's scenic gems, this 5,252-acre park occupies land donated in 1920 by former Seattle mayor and shipbuilder Robert Moran. Cloaked in a forest of Douglas fir, western red cedar and western hemlock, it features five freshwater lakes, waterfalls and 2,409-foot Mount Constitution, the highest peak in the San Juan Islands. Paved roads connect the major sites; hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders use the 38-mile network of trails, most built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.
The day-use area at Cascade Lake has a short interpretive trail. Paddleboat, canoe, kayak and electric-powered fishing boat rentals are available Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. An easy 2.7-mile trail encircles the lake. Mt. Constitution Road leads to the top of its namesake peak, passing other attractions en route. Cascade Falls is accessible via a short trail. The 100-foot drop, set in an amphitheater of mossy woods, is the highest in the San Juans. Three other waterfalls are within a 0.6-mile hike. Mountain Lake, the park's largest, contains four small islands. An easy 3.9-mile loop trail follows its shoreline.
Beyond Mountain Lake the road ascends the steep flank of Mt. Constitution via a series of six switchbacks. The upper switchbacks offer sweeping views. This narrow roadway is open daylight hours only and is not recommended for trailers or motor homes; it is occasionally closed in winter due to snow.
At the road's end a short trail leads through a forest of lodgepole pine to one of the Northwest's iconic views. Here at the summit the CCC erected a 50-foot observation tower out of native sandstone. Modeled after a 12th-century watchtower in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, its upper levels offer a 360-degree panorama encompassing islands, saltwater channels, the Cascades and the Olympic mountains. The lower two levels contain historical displays about Robert Moran, the establishment of the park, the CCC's labors and the area's natural history.
Note: The trail from Cascade Lake to Cascade Falls is closed on and off for reforesting projects; phone ahead to confirm schedule.
Pets on leash are allowed. Recreational activities are permitted. Camping is permitted. Picnicking is permitted. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.