CHS 1 Hike

Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series

CHS 1 Hike - Mount Constitution

CHS hike led at a CHS 1 pace (1.5-2.0 mph)

  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 16.0
  • Elevation Gain: 2,600 ft

Cold Spring trailhead in Moran State Park. We will start around 7:30 a.m.


There will be some added logistics and costs for this trip. This is a relatively remote location, requiring a ferry ride. It is recommended to come the day before and spend the nights before and after the hike on the island (Friday through Sunday). This trip will additionally require a ferry reservation in each direction. 

In addition to this hike, those coming back later on Sunday have the option to join us for a just for fun hike on Turtleback Mountain. You will need to register for that one as well. More info on that can be found here: 

Leaders have reserved two campsites near the starting point. Please reach out if you would like to join us. Preference will be given to people who carpool with us.

If you are not joining  at one of the campsites, you will need to make arrangements for yourself as to where to spend the night. You can make campground reservations here:

There are also several hotels and Airbnbs on the island. There are also a few "glamping" sites near my campsite. Those have a separate reservation system than the state park's one linked to above: 

Carpooling is highly recommended. This will reduce ferry cost as well as the cost of paying for additional vehicles at the campground.  It's also better for the environment! We can coordinate on carpools and ferries once we know who is going. 

Now for the fun stuff...

I love hiking in Moran State Park on Orcas Island. It is a special place, and I think definitely worthy of a graduation hike. 

The hike starts steep, climbing through a moss covered forest. We'll get a lot of our elevation gain out of the way early. Once we have worked up a sweat, the trail levels out as we approach Cold Spring, where we can stop for a short planned break. There are tables and a water source here. 

After this, we cross the park road (looking both ways before crossing), and enter into the next phase of our adventure. We'll skip the false summit, and as we walk toward the summit of Mount Constitution, we'll make note of the changing tree cover. But before long, we'll be distracted from that endeavor by some breathtaking views (weather permitting) of Mount Baker, the Cascades, and more. 

We reach the summit, have a lunch break and bask in the glory. You can (weather permitting) see Canada from here? Why yes, yes you can. Some may wish to climb the watchtower for a wider perspective. Provided the park has not turned it off, there should be potable water available at the visitor center nearby. 

Once we have had our fill, we'll start phase 3. We'll cross the parking lot (you mean I could have driven up this whole time!?!), and down some switchbacks. You'll be happy we didn't come up that way. We'll descend into a valley, skirt Twin Lakes, and head up (yes up) to our next peak, Mount Picket. Don't worry, this one is much shorter. We'll walk up a narrow, then wide trail, tag the peak, take another break, and then head back downhill to a junction that will take us to Mountain Lake. 

Phase 4: the loop within the loop. We'll walk the lake loop counterclockwise, check out some burns. There's definitely evidence of previous fires here. Someone will ask me why so many trees on the hillside had fallen, and I'll say I don't really know. Someone else will have an opinion. Maybe they are an expert. I really don't know. Another hill? This one is minimal, I promise. 

Round the lake we go. Taking pictures. Stopping to take care of our tired feet, remembering to hydrate and nourish ourselves as we go. People are friendly here and say hi as we pass. How can you not be friendly in such a magical place as this? After an hour or so of this, we come to the end of the loop, pass a campground and carefully make our way over a short road segment before popping back into the woods. 

Phase 5: it's (mostly) downhill from here. We say goodbye to the lake as our path takes us back to the junction with the Mountain Lake Dam. We head downhill, passing a series of falls. The air feels cool and crisp here. Our feet are sore, but we can feel the day winding down, and a new burst of energy propels us forward. The path flattens for a bit as we walk parallel to Olga Road below, giving us a sense of a return to reality. 

Then we come to a steep downhill. Everyone is cautious here, watching their footing and taking this downhill one step at a time. We agree that we don't want any accidents now, just as we are on the last leg, only steps from that sense of accomplishing the feat of a CHS graduation hike. Finally, we're back at the lower campground area and make our way to the cars, ready for some R&R, and some nourishment.

Photos from some of my earlier trips: 


Moran State Park

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Ten Essential Systems

  1. Navigation (map & compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
Trip Reports