Our exploration of the San Juan Islands continues with a little trek to the tallest point on the islands - Mount Constitution. Located on Orcas Island (Orcas is the mountain-y one), Mount Constitution sits in Moran State Park, a 5,000 acre or so state park with lakes, mountains, waterfalls, lots of hiking trails, camping & day use areas.
Mt. Constitution sports an awesome stone lookout tower (built in 1936). The views are excellent, you can actually go inside and up in the tower (as opposed to it being locked up like some sites in the NW), and there are bathrooms in the parking lot.
Although you can park lower on the mountain and hike up (the popular trail is about 7 miles with a 1500 ft elevation gain), you can also just drive and park on the very top. Just know you'll need a Washington State Discover Pass ($10 a day or $30 a year) to park a vehicle at the park. We usually purchase ours each year at REI in Seattle and keep it in the glove box.
Also, if you are hiking up, know that sometimes there isn't portable drinking water at the top so plan ahead! We highly recommend heading to the top and checking out the view - it's amazing!
~Paul & Amber ETC
Nice map of Moran State Park
Check here at the State Park website for current info
If you've been following the blog, you know that we've been spying on Washington's San Juan Islands for some time. We've made a few trips there, and have a few more planned. Seattleites are always super in love with islands - to be honest, we didn't really get it until we started visiting ourselves. We hope to spend some time kayaking there this summer, and our recent trips have been geared to that end. Where can we stay? What towns are close? What's it like there? If we had to pull into town with all of our kayaking gear - could we get supplies and a place to stay?
We caught a ferry from Anacortes over to Orcas Island and drove the 8 miles/15 minutes or so to the island's main town - Eastsound. We explored, shopped, and had a great lunch before heading off to nearby Moran State Park and the resort at Doe Bay.
There is a public beach in town to launch kayaks from and a grocery to stock up on essentials. There are a few hotels close to the water, a museum, lots of shops, an outdoorsy store (great if you forgot important things…like a foot pump), a place to rent kayaks and bicycles, and some great restaurants.
One of those great restaurants is The Kitchen (it happens to be right next door to a cute little store called Tres Fabu!). It was a nice day and we ordered and ate lunch outside, then walked over to Enzo's for coffee.
We picked up some groceries at the full-size grocery and headed on our way to Moran State Park (post coming soon) and beyond. Orcas is gorgeous and just like everyone says - so different from the other islands. Walking around in Eastsound kinda feels like your in a small mountain town in Colorado…except on the water! It would make a great place to stop on a big (or small) kayaking adventure, and we had a great time visiting by car.
~Paul & Amber ETC
Jeez, it's been about 10 years since we've been to the Seattle Aquarium. We don't really have a good excuse, only that when you're a Seattle local you tend to stay close to your cozy neighborhood on the weekends. Who wants to drive down into the waterfront tourist trap?
Eventually the cozy wears off and we head downtown. When we're there, we usually say, "Man, why don't we come down here more often?".
We almost always feel that way when we explore the waterfront & the Pike Place Market. So many cool spots to explore and photograph. The aquarium has the super cool giant Window on Washington Waters tank with diver presentations throughout the day, a great Crashing Waves wave pool, cool jellyfish and octopus exhibits, a series of touch pools, a sea & shore bird exhibit, and tons more. Super cute otters and a newly renovated harbor seal exhibit top things off. Definitely worth a visit…especially if it's been 10 years!!!
~Paul & Amber ETC
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