“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

Chances are, if you are visiting the San Juan Islands, you can relate to the words of Henry David Thoreau written over 150 years ago. There is something that happens when we spend time in nature, in a safe, beautiful world, with our cell phones silenced and our hearts wide open.

To everyone who visits the island, I recommend a hike or a short walk in Moran State Park, along Crescent Beach, or up the steep climb of Ship's Peak in Turtleback Mountain Preserve. There are vistas, old growth forests, seashells, eagles, and innumerable smells and sounds that you can only experience here on Orcas Island.

Here are a few of my favorite hikes.

  • Mountain Lake Loop in Moran State Park at 3.9 miles, the Mountain Lake hike is an easy, kid friendly, relatively level jaunt around the San Juan Island's largest lake.  Although this hike doesn't have the breathtaking views of other hikes on Orcas Island, with majestic Douglas Firs, the faint drum beat of woodpeckers, and lush green moss covering the ground, your senses won't be disappointed.  Keep your eyes out for ospreys, eagles, ducks, and black tailed deer.  More information on this hike
  • Obstruction Pass State Park this is my favorite sunny afternoon with a book hike.  The easy 1/2 mile trail from the parking area to the sandy/pebble beach is a nice stroll with interpretive markers along the way, soaring trees, and beautiful red madronas.  The beach at the end of the trail is the prize.  The beach has tide pools, steep cliffs, and a sandy end for sensitive toes and sandcastle building.