A quick little hike from Orcas Island's Mountain Lake brings you to Cascade Falls. Depending on the season, this little San Juan Island waterfall can flow. We've been there before, and always love to stop by when we're close. Roundtrip hiking to the falls from Mountain Lake took us a little about 2.5 hours. Plan for 1/2 day in the woods hiking & exploring this waterfall if you're leaving from the Mountain Lake campground like we did. It's totally worth it!
~Paul, Amber, Sis, Mom
I've got to be honest, it's a little tricky to enjoy swimming in the Pacific Northwest. There's water everywhere here in Western Washington, but it's chilly. When summer comes around again this year I'll finally be ready…because I finally found a lake…a warm lake!
To get there…wait for summer, then catch a ferry out of Anacortes…to Orcas Island in the San Juans!
Stop at some island viewpoints and shops along the way. Above: the road up tos Mt. Constitution. Below: views of Volcano Baker and shopping at Crow Valley Pottery.
We've arrived! A little lakeside campground in Moran State Park called…Mountain Lake!
We took a few laps around the lake in our 2 person Innova kayak and had a blast. The water was surprisingly warm - much warmer than Lake Washington in Seattle (where we usually swim in the summer).
The campground has only about 10 spots with parking spaces, and a lot more for groups (not to mention sites in other parts of the park). We made a reservation online here. We didn't have that much trouble getting a reservation on a week day in the summer. There aren't showers onsite - that could be part of it (there are bathrooms & water though).
More than one trail leaves Mountain Lake for lookouts, other lakes, and waterfalls (we've been to one). Canoe & kayak rentals are also available.
So, if you're looking for a warm summer lake to swim in, even in the chilly Pacific Northwest, be sure to book a night or two at Mountain Lake on Orcas Island!
~Paul, Amber, Mom, Sis
Another quaint Lopez Island locale is the Fisherman Bay Preserve, located just a few clicks from Lopez village. It's a 29 acre spit/preserve/park with hiking trails, shoreline, and beautiful sights to explore. There's an outhouse and a small parking lot at the entrance. Bringing your dog for a run along the designated paths seems like a good way to spend the afternoon!
On the way there you'll also pass by Otis Perkins day park with even more shoreline/beach to check out. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Lopez is the best!
~Paul & Amber ETC
Nice map & info about the park
I'll just go ahead and quote myself when I say that Lopez Island, Washington has a "tri-force of awesomeness". Iceberg point, Watmough Bay, and now finally Shark Reef Sanctuary make Lopez the BEST San Juan Island (No? debate in our comment section!).
After parking at Shark Reef you'll head down a forest-y trail to the rocky shore.
From there, short trails head down the shoreline, weaving through trees and over rocks. You'll probably notice the tidal rapids roaring through Cattle Pass. It's like a saltwater river - you might want to plan ahead if your coming through this pass by boat!
All & all, a great park. Lopez Island is a beautiful place. A stop to the San Juans without checking out these sights is big mistake! Check it out!
~Paul, Amber, Mom, Sis ETC
P.S. The map below gets you pretty close - the actual park/parking lot is a touch south from Shark Reef Rd & Burt Rd.
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