Turtleback Mountain Preserve

Enjoy some of the best views of San Juan islands from the summit of Turtleback Mountain, known as Turtlehead. It's an easy to moderate, 5.7-mile hike with 1,295 feet of elevation gain. There are several options for extending your trip and enjoying more of the Turtleback Mountain Preserve.

Getting there

Take the Washington State Ferry to Orcas Island.  Park at the north trailhead off of Crow Valley Road at Turtleback Mountain Preserve or south trailhead off of Deer Harbor Road at Turtleback Mountain Preserve.

On the trail

Turtleback Summit (1,025 ft)

5.7 miles round trip with 1,295 feet of elevation gain

Take the North Trail to the Turtlehead and Raven Trail junction.  Considering stopping at the North Valley and Waldron Overlooks.  Take the Turtlehead Trail out to Turtlehead. 

Ship Peak Loop

2.9-mile loop with 860 feet of elevation gain

You can hike the loop in either direction.  Counterclockwise, follow the South Trail to the Morning Ridge Trail and the West Overlook. Continue on to the summit of Ship Peak. Take the left onto the Lost Oak Trail at its junction with Ridge rail and head back to the trailhead.


  • Extend your trip with a side trip out Raven Trail to the summit of Turtleback Mountain.
  • For a longer exploration of Turtleback Mountain Preserve hike from the north trailhead to the south trailhead or visa versa.
  • There are many old roads and trails that are great for trail running and mountain biking.
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Length: 5.7 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,295 ft
  • 1,025 ft
  • Parking Permit Required:
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • USGS Eastsound

Upcoming Activities

There are no activities scheduled at this location.

Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Turtleback Mountain Preserve: Turtlehead Summit
  • Turtlehead Summit
  • Turtleback Mountain Preserve: Ship Peak Loop
  • Ship Peak Loop

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