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Moran State Park - Cold Springs and North Trail Loop to Mount Constitution

Puget Sound and Islands

Location

Puget Sound and Islands -- San Juan Islands
View map below

Length

11.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2940 ft.
Highest Point: 2409 ft.

Rating

3.00 out of 5

 
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
Check the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau travel advisory for the latest COVID updates
 
 

This lollipop loop will have you sucking air as you climb from just over 300 feet to 2400 feet in a little more than 4 miles. But along the way you'll tour forested knolls, pass massive trees and babbling brooks, even get a little shot of history when you pass an old well, and see the massive CCC-era tower at the top of Mount Constitution. 

To begin, start from the parking area right across from the day use area at Cascade Lake. A kiosk with maps of Moran is nearby, and you'll find the trailhead just across a field, towards the north. Set off up the trail, passing a faint trail and bridge crossing the creek (these lead to North End campground). Almost immediately after, come upon an enormous cedar tree. Whether you stop and admire it on the way up or on the way back, be sure to take a few minutes just to wonder at its sheer size. 

Continuing on, the trail switchbacks and begins climbing steeply. After 0.6 miles, hang a right, though you may notice a trail to your left. It's the West Boundary Trail, and offers a steep and harder-to-follow route, but is a 2.5 mile optional return route, or alternate way up to the summit. 

Back on your trail, continue to climb, on the right-hand side of a ravine. The tread gets slightly narrower and more rugged, weaving through open forest and open balds. If you need to stop and catch your breath, look through the treetops. The view here gives just a hint of what's to come. 

Finally, at 2.45 miles you stop climbing and arrive at a junction with the North Boundary Loop trail. Here you can choose to head left or straight on. Taking a left brings you past the junction for Twin Lakes and means more elevation loss and gain before achieving the summit. Continuing straight, you're rewarded with the summit in a much shorter amount of time, but means it's a long way back to the trailhead. 

My recommendation is to go straight. Head that way, passing a small pond at 2.5 miles. Soon after, you'll pass the spring for which this trail is named (it's under a small wooden gazebo). Walk through a small picnic area, and soon cross the Mount Constitution road at 3.2 miles. 

Note: It is possible to start a loop here, though there's limited parking. If you do it though, you'll deal with far less elevation gain. 

Continuing across the road, arrive at a junction found at 3.5 miles. Turn left (turning right takes you downhill to the Little Summit parking area) and head downhill briefly before passing Summit Lake on your left. Then begin climbing again, gradually encircling the summit of Mount Constitution. 

Views here only improve as you get higher, and the cedar forest you've been trekking through gives way to salal and madronas. Look north to Bellingham and Canada, and down at Sucia Island. Break out onto the summit at 4.4 miles. Catch your breath; you're at 2409 feet above sea level!

Enjoy a snack at the picnic area, and be sure to take some time for the interpretive signs and views from the tower. Then walk north through the summit parking lot and down the paved road for 0.1 mile to where the Twin Lakes Trail sets off (right under the power lines). 

The trail descends steeply immediately, plunging back in to the forest before reaching a junction with the North Trail. The rest of your hike is through forest, but take note. There is old-growth here, as well as seasonal streams and birdsong; a veritable symphony as you hike. 

Descend the Twin Lakes Trail to the junction leading to Twin Lakes. Take a detour there if you like, or continue on the main loop. Switchback and continue descending, then begin climbing again before traversing along to the junction with the service road and the West Boundary Trail. This you can follow for a shorter return to the parking area, though it is less meandering and harder on the knees. 

The more interesting route continues straight, crossing the service road, passing a pond and climbing a short but steep hill, culminating in a moss-covered state park boundary marker. Return to the first junction you passed through, this one at about 9 miles into your hike. Here, turn right, and begin heading downhill on the Cold Springs trail again. it's another 2.6 miles of switchbacks and downhill back to the trailhead. Don't forget to stop and admire that giant tree on your way out. 

 

Moran State Park - Cold Springs and North Trail Loop to Mount Constitution

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.6561, -122.8552 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Puget Sound and Islands -- San Juan Islands

Washington State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: San Juan and Gulf Islands (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

USGS Mount Constitution

state park map online or available in person

Getting There

Take the Washington State ferry to Orcas Island from Anacortes (reservations required). Once at Orcas, follow Orcas Road for 8 miles to the village of Eastsound. Turn right to drive through Eastsound, or stay straight to take the truck route around town.

The two roads meet at a "T" intersection marked by a Minit Mart on Olga Road. Continue on Olga Road (turning right onto Olga Road if you went through Eastsound) for 3.6 miles and pass through the gate marking the entrance to Moran State Park entrance gate. The trailhead is across from the Cascade Lake day-use area, and there is a privy available.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
Check the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau travel advisory for the latest COVID updates
 

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Moran State Park - Cold Springs and North Trail Loop to Mount Constitution

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