Little Summit is a popular highpoint located nearly two miles south of Mount Constitution within Moran State Park, in San Juan County of Washington State. However, do not be fooled by the peak's name. Although peaks within San Juan County generally have only modest elevations, Little Summit is the second-highest named peak (or third-highest, if counting a highpoint known as "False Summit" located between Little Summit and Mount Constitution) in the county.
Remnants Of Fire Lookout
Little Summit is more popular now than it was in the past. Located in scenic Moran State Park on Orcas Island, most visitors have always tended to pass by Little Summit to visit neighboring Mount Constitution, the highest point in the county which has a panoramic vista and old stone lookout tower atop it. However, back in 1966, a 50' tall DNR (Department of Natural Resources) wooden fire-lookout tower was built atop Little Summit, in an effort to relieve some of the traffic congestion for more-popular Mount Constitution. Although the creation of the Little Summit lookout tower did give park visitors another scenic viewpoint to stop at in the area, it ultimately did not help limit traffic congestion from occurring at Mount Constitution, and the tower was rarely used as a fire-lookout. As a result, a private group removed the Little Summit tower in 1988.
Today, mainly the stone/concrete bases and front stairs of the summit tower remain on Little Summit. A stone "compass" circle is embedded atop the small stone staircase, a noticeable remnant of the former lookout site, with one side of the circle pointing in the direction of North. Several picnic tables are found around the summit area, and the peak is a popular destination for families and other park visitors. The southern vista provides a great view of many of the San Juan Islands, and on a clear day it is even possible to see Mount Rainier far to the south. Deer, rabbits, raccoons, and chipmunks are abundant on the peak. Common birds on the peak include crows, eagles, hawks, woodpeckers, jays, and owls.
The "Summit" Of Little Summit
Drive, bike, or walk to the town of Anacortes, which is about 60 miles north of Seattle, via I-5 and Highway 20. Follow the highway signs that say "Anacortes - San Juan Islands". The ferry terminal is on the west end of town, and is very easy to find. Below is a link:
Ferry Schedule and Prices - Anacortes to the San Juan Islands
Please note there are seasonal changes to the times. Summer has more service times. Please also note the cost to bring your vehicle. Arrive to the ferry terminal well in advance, at least an hour and sometimes at least two hours (especially during peak season), to ensure you get on the ferry you want. You want to get off at Orcas Island, so it's best to choose a time that has Orcas Island on a particular ferry schedule. It is about an hour's ride from Anacortes to Orcas Island.
NOTE: Not all departures from Anacortes go to Orcas Island. Carefully review the ferry schedules prior to taking your trip.
Once on Orcas Island, proceed north along the main road following the signs to Rosario/Moran State Park. The general route is north past the town of Eastsound, then east and south toward Moran State Park. The Rosario Resort is passed just before entering the park. Pay your fee at the self-pay kiosk at the entrance to the park.
The shortest route to Little Summit is to follow Mount Constitution Road towards its summit. Nearly two miles after the gate/cutoff for Mountain Lake (the which went right/east), the main road passes a sign that says "Little Summit - Elevation 2200 - Mt. Constitution - Trail 1.8Mi." The elevation for Little Summit shown on the sign is incorrect. Little Summit has an elevation of approximately 2011', but a nearby highpoint (nicknamed "False Summit") located halfway between Little Summit and Mount Constitution has over 2200' elevation. There is a parking lot at the sign, and the summit of Little Summit is only 0.2 miles from the parking lot/trailhead.
Sign At Little Summit Parking Area
Other routes to Little Summit includes a hiker's trail to/from Mountain Lake, as well as 2.2 miles-long "Little Summit Trail" connecting Little Summit to Mount Constitution. It is also possible to do a much longer and steeper hike via trails originating across from Cascade Lake, located near the entrance of Moran State Park.
Red TapeThe following rules and regulations apply to Little Summit:
Some national and state parks have a "pack-it-in, pack-it-out" program (i.e. people must carry out everything being brought into the park). Please check with Moran State Park rangers prior to visiting Little Summit to see if this policy is currently in effect on that peak.
Pets are allowed on Little Summit and its trails. However, each pet must be on a leash and under physical control by its owner at all times.
Flora, fauna, and all park structures are protected on Little Summit. Feeding wildlife is prohibited. Removing or destroying fragile or endangered plant-life is prohibited. Removing or damaging park structures (such as the remnants of the former Little Summit lookout) are prohibited.
Horses are allowed in Moran State Park, but equestrians need to check with the park office prior to visiting the park to determine where horses are allowed on Little Summit (if at all).
Alcoholic beverages are permitted only in areas designated as such.
For further rules and regulations for Moran State Park in general, please contact the park office.
Campsites in Moran State Park are on a "first come, first served" basis only.
Each campsite is for one camping party only, with a maximum of eight people in that party.
During peak season (i.e. summer months), campers are allowed to stay in Moran State Park for up to 10 consecutive days. During off-season (i.e. from October 1 to March 31), campers are allowed to stay in Moran State Park for up to 20 consecutive days.
Established campsites are found throughout Moran State Park. Contact the park office for official location, fees, and availabilities. The closest campground to Little Summit is several miles south next to Mountain Lake, the largest lake in the park. However, for those who arrive by bicycle or on-foot, 15 primitive campsites are located along Mount Constitution Road between Mountain Lake and Mount Constitution.
The maximum campsite length is 45' long (the space of which may have limited availability). Many established campsites are too small to fit large RVs or motorhomes.
The official website for Moran State Park