Top Hikes & Eats On ((or near)) Orcas
After 3 trips to the San Juan Islands over the last 4 years ((read about are trip 2 years ago HERE)), I definitely feel as though that place is a second home. The first time we went, Gracie was only 2 – so our experiences were limited. The second time we went, Shep and I never left the house until he was medi-flighted off of the island. So this time, we ventured out! We took new hikes, went to other parts of the island, tried a few restaurants and a bakery and even took the inter-island ferry to Friday Harbor three times.
With all the sights and tasty food we enjoyed this year, I decided to share some of my favorites. ((BUT, I really like the slower pace and small population of Orcas — so don’t visit. Just kidding, kind of.))
Favorite bakery – Roses; Eastbound, Orcas Island. I recommend you try the cheese stuffed potato rolls, love rolls AND the orange brioche rolls. Then I wont be the only one whose pants don’t fit.
We bought a mix of rolls, cheeses and sliced deli meats and had a picnic at the top of Turtleback Mountain. I think it was the best picnic we ever had. Thank you Roses!
Favorite Hikes ::
- Twin Lakes ((Moran State Park, Orcas))
Easy (about 1 mile), Twin Lakes is my favorite hike, it can be done in about 30 minutes, it’s always quiet and has gorgeous views of two very reflective mountain lakes.
- Mountain Lake via Twin Lakes ((Moran State Park, Orcas))
This hike is a little more difficult, approximately 5 miles round-trip if you go by way of Twin Lakes to the rope swing. Although the hike is a little more intense, it is fairly flat and remains remote, quiet and so gorgeous. The rope swing is definitely a destination you shouldn’t miss. Just be sure to bring a towel and a dry set of clothes. The water is chilly!
- Cascade Falls
The 4 hikes that make up the Cascade Falls area are moderately easy and so very gorgeous. We hiked each route in one morning, in under 90 minutes. The trails are fairly flat and shaded, but it is an island favorite, making it pretty crowded. I would suggest going during the week in the morning.
- Turtleback Mountain, North & South trails
This was the most intense hike of the trip, the south hike was crazy hard. It was hot and hard BUT the views were stunning and worth the effort for sure. Just be prepared for the steep trek, bring plenty of water. Treat yourself to a picnic at the top!
- Best place to grab fresh seafood – Buck Bay, Orcas
I think we went to Buck Bay 4 times! Fresh salmon, live clams, live oysters, scallops, crab, prawns and more plus a nice selection of locally grown produce. Everything was delicious ((well, Shep Gracie & Kade were not fans of the raw oysters…)). Speaking of oysters, I learned to shuck oysters like a pro at Buck Bay — just don’t time me!
- Fish n’ Chips – The Bait Shop :: Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
The cod was buttery and lightly breaded – and so crisp. Absolutely delicious and worth the ferry ride over to another island. While you are there, try the crab bisque! It was the best soup I had the entire trip. Better than any chowder!
- Tacos – Tia’s Tacos :: Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
These beef and pork tacos are only $2 a piece and are by far the best tacos I have ever eaten. Trust me – these are killer. A really good cut of meat, not fatty and so very flavor-packed. Who would think the Pacific Northwest could pull off a better taco than the Southwest?! The salsas were really good too.
- Best Ice Cream – Lopez Island Creamery :: Deer Harbor, Orcas Island
Gorgeous views matched the creamy, cold locally made treat. I chose vanilla, my most favorite flavor. Vanilla is easy to over-flavor but this Lopez Island Creamery vanilla was perfect. The milky sweet vanilla ice cream had little chips of ice crystals throughout. I suppose some people may not like that but I love that unexpected crunch.
- Pottery: Olga Pottery & Orcas Island Pottery
Mr Weatherman’s shop, Olga Pottery has a special spot in my heart. I have a tradition of buying pottery from him every time I visit the island. I love his work and always have a hard time narrowing my selections. This year, I bought a few “seeded sourdough” plates and several “cheese & crackers” plates ((these plates are named after the snacks that fit perfectly on them)). I also discovered another pottery spot on the Island, in the Crow Valley area – Orcas Island Pottery. Beware – the selection at Orcas Island Pottery is enormous – amazingly enormous.
We also enjoyed Orca whale watching with Captain Steve @ Outer Island Excursions ((Special thanks to Captain Steve for letting Brod drive us home!)), a lovely tour of San Juan MOA and the Ansel Adams exhibit, delicious lunch at the Madrona Grill, and awesome service at the Eastbound grocery store, book store and the Tiny Homes & Cabins produce shop ((yummy oyster mushrooms, local mustards & honey!)).
Whew – even after 16 days on the island, we didn’t even scratch the surface of hikes & eats. Looks like I will have to return. ((LOVE this place))