Orcas Knob (Turtlehead)

Orcas Knob (Turtlehead)

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 48.66124°N / 122.99048°W
Additional Information County: San Juan
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 1005 ft / 306 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Orcas Knob from near Ship Peak
Orcas Knob from near Ship Peak

Orcas Knob which is the newest addition to the Turtlehead Mountain Preserve has views that at least rival that of Ship Peak to the south. In my view, the views on Orcas Knob (or Turtlehead as some of the signs in the preserve say) is actually better than that of Ship Peak and is highly with a view of Vancouver Island, San Juan Islands and many of the other islands to the west of Orcas Island. One can also the northern side of Turtleback mountain from Orcas Knob.

Orcas Knob view
Orcas Knob view

Orcas Knob is on the northwest tip of the park and has only been recently added as a land trust. There is a sign noting that this is private property and to please will no trace. It is not yet too popular with hikers but this is likely to change as the area becomes more and more popular over time. The easiest way is a 4.5 mile roundtrip with 1100 elevation gain trip from the North Trailhead or one can do a 9 mile 2500 foot hike and knock off Turtleback and Ship Peak as well from the south.  

Getting There

VIA THE NORTH TRAILHEAD: From the Orcas Ferry take Orcas Road roughly 2 miles to Deer Harbor Road. Make a left on Deer Harbor Road and then make a right onto Crow Valley Road. Take Crow Valley Road 4 miles north and the North Trailhead will be on your left.

VIA THE SOUTH TRAILHEAD: From the Orcas Ferry take Orcas Road roughly 2 miles to Deer Harbor Road. Stay on Deer Harbor Road for almost three miles as it traverses the coast. Turn on Wildrose Lane and you will then see the parking area immediately on the righthand side. 


San Juan Land Trust Map
Map (courtesy of the San Juan Land Trust

Louis, Josh and I did Ship Peak, Turtleback and Orcas Knob in a quicker 9 mile 2500 foot elevation gain hike full of ups and down from the South Parking through a various maze of trails. This trip itself is highly advised and very scenic with both Orcas Knob (called Turtlehead on signs) and Ship Peak being extremely rewarding.

Orcas Knob view
Orcas Knob view

If you are though solely trying to get Orcas Knob then you will want to take the North Trailhead of the Turtlehead Preserve take the North Trail as it slowly gains the elevation for about 1.5 miles on good trail all of the way to a four junction. To the right of the four way junction is an excellent viewpoint off to the north. To the left heading uphill will be the way to the South Trailhead, Turtleback and Ship Peak. You will want to head straight, which will be downhill toward Orcas Knob. You will continue at a gradual pace downhill until you reach the base of Orcas Knob in which you will quickly rise back uphill all the way to the summit of Orcas Knob. Excellent views west await you from the open summit area.

Red Tape

There is no red tape except that this is a day use park only.

When to Climb

Orcas Knob view
Orcas Knob view

Hiking can be done here at any time of the year. In winter monitor the temperatures and weather and be prepared if there has been snow in the lowlands recently.Add When to Climb text here.


Orcas Knob sign
Orcas Knob sign

There is no camping allowed on the Land Trust or Preserve.

External Links

Orcas Knob Peakbagger Page

Information on Turtleback Mountain Conservation

Seattle Times Article on Turtleback Mountain