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suggestions and tips for short family hikes on Orcas

Bellevue, Washington
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suggestions and tips for short family hikes on Orcas

We are so excited for our quick trip to Orcas this weekend and have pretty much mapped out what we'd like to do and see while on the island but we want to make sure we keep our plans realistic with two little kids in tow.

We will only have two days on Orcas so we plan to take the 720am ferry on Sunday morning, check into Turtleback Farm Inn, get breakfast at New Leaf Cafe and visit the following places for the rest of the day:

- Obstruction Pass State Park (how long does the short hike to the pebble beach usually take?)

- Mt. Constitution (if we drive up to the top parking lot, will there be a hike left for us to do to get to the tower?)

- Cascade Falls (where is a good starting point for a short hike to the falls? And how long does it usually take to get there and back?)

- if there's time, we'd love to see and hang out at either the Mountain Lake or Cascade Lake, though we probably won't have time to do either lake loop hikes. :(

Will it be realistic to expect that we can do all these things in a day? We have a 7-year-old and a 17-month-old who are troopers and love short hikes, so i'm not too worried about them getting tired (usually, Mom & Dad are the ones begging them for rest! :p) so i'm more concerned about having enough time.

The next day, we are still debating on whether to catch the 520pm or 845pm ferry back to Anacortes. Ideally, we'd like to shoot for the earlier ferry so we won't have to worry about driving too late to Bellevue, but we're also open to the evening ferry since we'd like to fit in a short hike in Turtleback Mountain and just exploring the Eastsound during the day, without having to wake up too early. ;p

We'll be staying at the Turtleback Farm Inn and I know there's a trailhead for the mountain near there but i'm not sure which. Does anyone have any suggestions on which trail to hike in Turtleback for great views that won't take too long?

If anyone has any other suggestions on how we can fit all this during our quicj trip, we'd love to hear it! Thanks so much in advance!

Indian Harbour...
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1. Re: suggestions and tips for short family hikes on Orcas

Both Obstruction Pass and Moran need the Discover Pass. If you buy it at the camping registration station on the right just before you enter Moran park there is no markup. Don't think they take credit cards. $10 for one day, $30 for the whole year.

I don't think it's too much to do in a day tho I haven't traveled with little ones in a long time.

- Obstruction Pass State Park (how long does the short hike to the pebble beach usually take?)

About 10 - 15 minutes each way. Take the right fork. The left fork climbs a hill and is longer. There is another right fork after the first one. Take the left fork to get to the beach. When you get to the beach pay attention to where you are coming out so you can go back the same way. The other fork goes straight to the water for a nice view. If you go back to the paved road and turn right it pretty much ends at the Marina. Nice view there but not as pretty as Obstruction Pass park. Going the other way you come to Pt Lawrence. If you turn right and go about 3 miles you will get to Doe Bay resort. Great settings and a nice little veggie restaurant. They are having a festival this week (Aug 8-11) so you can't get there right now but if the festival is over when you come it's worth a quick visit just for the view.

On your way back toward town the road makes a sharp left, goes down a hill and then at the water turns right. If you look straight ahead when you come down the hill you will see some trees near the water on the left. Look near the top of the bare one that leans out over the water. Often there is an eagle sitting there. (You can turn left and go down E J Young to about house number 311. There is a wide spot on the right you can park. Walk to 341 and turn around and you should have a good view of the eagle if he is there.)

After you cross the bridge and go up the hill you will get to a stop sign. If you turn left you get to Olga. If you park up near the Olga Community Center and walk down the hill you can turn left on the last road and follow it to the public access to the water. Kids might enjoy walking on the ocean floor at low tide.

I live near the bridge. If you have time, send me a PM and I will tell you how to get to our place. We have our own waterfall and miniature grand canyon that is only a short 100 yds away. I can also tell you how to visit our property up on Buck Mountain for a different view. I can also check with the hatchery and see if the salmon will be running while you are here. It's a lot of fun to watch them jump up the ladder.

- Mt. Constitution (if we drive up to the top parking lot, will there be a hike left for us to do to get to the tower?)

Very short hike up the hill maybe 100 yds at the most. There is a nice little hike which starts behinds the bathrooms. It runs along the ridge and has great views that you can't see from the tower. I usually go down, take the right fork to Cold Springs then come back up the road to make a loop hike but you can turn around any time and go back the way you came.

The Summit Learning Center to the right at the parking lot is free. Part of it is a gift shop but they have some things for kids to do. I built two of the interactive boards. Go into the other gift shop and say hello to my wife Shelly if she is working that day. She volunteers a couple of times a month.

On your way up to the tower, go about a mile after you pass the Mountain Lake turnoff and you will see a small (3 car) parking area on your left where the wooden railing ends and the road makes a sharp right turn. Park there and you will get a good view out over the islands. Lot prettier than the view from the top. (The trees have grown up so you don't get 360 degrees any more.) We go up there and picnic on the ground sometimes. Good place to watch the sunset too.

- Cascade Falls (where is a good starting point for a short hike to the falls? And how long does it usually take to get there and back?)

The parking area for Cascade Falls is about the first turn off as you go up the mountain. Then you walk downhill a ways to the river. There are several falls so we usually walk upriver a ways. Seems like it's only a 15 minute hike each way but it's a been a few years since I was there.

The Turtleback North parking area is near where you will be staying. The hike is a continual uphill walk but there is a nice look out over the valley not too far up.

- if there's time, we'd love to see and hang out at either the Mountain Lake or Cascade Lake, though we probably won't have time to do either lake loop hikes.

If you go to Mountain Lake you can drive your car past the first area. There is a narrow dirt road that follows the lake that ends at a small parking area with a picnic table and some campsites. There is a good view of the lake and the island there and it's usually a bit quieter.

Cascade Lake has a new kid's play area. Swimming and boat rental.

On the way from the ferry, just where you turn left to go to Turtleback Farm you will see a small road on the right called Fowler's Way. Turn right there and go to the end. There is a parking area. Walk around the gate about 1/4 mile to Judd Cove. Pretty little park right on the water with a restored Lime Kiln. Another little loop hike up the hill will take you to the quarry.

Aug 17-19 around 9 AM the tide will be so low you can walk to Indian Island (the little island off Eastsound.)

I never leave on the late ferries so can't tell you if they are full or not. Probably not too bad as long as it's not a Sunday but allow at least an hour wait time. Check out the webcam and see what it looks like:

desticam.com

Make sure you get a map or two - should be some on the ferry or the Island Market has them at the checkout counters. Important info: Bathrooms are available near the farmer's market area but they are not very nice. The library has very nice bathrooms and so does the Island Market.

Edited: 10:59 pm, August 07, 2013
Bellevue, Washington
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197 posts
10 reviews
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2. Re: suggestions and tips for short family hikes on Orcas

Wow, buckmountain! Thank you so much for all the tips! That is so nice of you to offer us a look around in your property -- will definitely send you a message!

Doe Bay was on our itinerary until i found out that they were not letting anyone in without Doe Bay Fest tickets this weekend. I guess we'll hve to visit them some other time. Bummer though. :(

We were planning to have lunch there in between hikes thru Moran & Obstruction Pass State Parks but now we're looking for another option in the area. Has Cafe Olga reopened again? Are there any other cafes/restaurants in that area?

Thanks so much!

Indian Harbour...
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3. Re: suggestions and tips for short family hikes on Orcas

Cafe Olga is still closed. There was talk of reopening in the old Olga store but I heard the kitchen was too small. The only other restaurant is at Rosario if you don't want to go back into town. I'd plan a picnic. Maybe take your food and eat on the beach at Obstruction Pass park, on Mt Constitution or perhaps up on our property. Have to sit on the ground so take a blanket.

4. Re: suggestions and tips for short family hikes on Orcas

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