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Washington

Two-Island Trek: Great Coastal Hikes in the San Juan Islands

Program No. 16296RJ
Enjoy coastal and forest hikes and explore unique ecosystems while learning about conservation efforts and wildlife preservation efforts on two of the San Juan Islands.

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At a Glance

Revel in the seascapes of untold beauty with expert naturalists, marine educators and environmentalists who lead you into their backyard world of the San Juan Islands and Salish Sea. Consider the environmental issues of the prairie bluff, beach, mountain and old-growth forest ecosystems. Journey by ferry to Orcas Island to witness the profusion of life and the fragility of beauty along Washington’s fabled diamonds of the emerald seas.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Walking 2-6 miles daily on varied terrain and boarding vans.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Enjoy coastal and wooded hikes on San Juan Island with views of the beach and mountains.
  • Hike the old-growth forest on Orcas Island and around mountain lakes of Moran State Park and Mount Constitution.
  • Search for Orcas and other marine mammals of the Salish Sea from the vantage point of the Limekiln Lighthouse.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
Profile Image
Michael Vouri
Michael Vouri retired as the chief of interpretation and historian for San Juan Island National Park after more than 21 years. He has written books about the Pig War, the Royal Marines and San Juan Island. He has worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers, a U.S. Air Force public affairs officer, and as assistant director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael has been a Road Scholar instructor on San Juan Island since 1997 and a Group Leader since 2016.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Michael Vouri
Michael Vouri View biography
Michael Vouri retired as the chief of interpretation and historian for San Juan Island National Park after more than 21 years. He has written books about the Pig War, the Royal Marines and San Juan Island. He has worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers, a U.S. Air Force public affairs officer, and as assistant director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael has been a Road Scholar instructor on San Juan Island since 1997 and a Group Leader since 2016.
Profile Image of Cindy Hansen
Cindy Hansen View biography
Cindy Hansen, born in Gary, Indiana, received a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Washington and previously worked as a whale watch naturalist, education curator for The Whale Museum, and an expert at a gray whale camp at Laguna San Ignacio in Baja. She is currently the education and advocacy coordinator for Orca Network, and volunteers for the research organizations Orca Behavior Institute and Wild Orca. She also volunteers for Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and with the local animal shelter.
Profile Image of Shona Aitken
Shona Aitken View biography
Shona Aitken has a degree in ecology and a background in environmental education in her home country of Scotland, and from two years spent in Sweden. She is currently the education coordinator for Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island. She teaches people about local wildlife and increases awareness of the impact of human activities on wild creatures.
Profile Image of Bill Engle
Bill Engle View biography
Bill Engle is a retired postmaster of Shaw Island. He grew with a mountain-climbing father and a gardening, birding, environmental activist mother, and has always had a passion for the outdoors. He has lived in the San Juan Islands for more than 30 years and is the founding president of the San Juan Islands Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. Before becoming postmaster, his role as a part-time flex clerk placed him in every post office in San Juan County.
Profile Image of Kathleen Foley Lewis
Kathleen Foley Lewis View biography
Kathleen Foley is the Stewardship Manager of the San Juan Preservation Trust and has been a staff member since 2005. In this role, she oversees the management of 30+ different nature preserves, conducts annual monitoring visits, and coordinates restoration activities and youth education. She is a Washington native with a long history of exploring the San Juan Islands and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor pursuits. Kathleen lives with her son, Evan, and partner, Bill, near the lovely False Bay on San Juan Island.
Profile Image of Gabrielle Gilham
Gabrielle Gilham View biography
Gabrielle Gilham is the education coordinator at Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Born and raised in New Jersey, Gabrielle has a degree in environmental policy, institutions, and behavior from Rutgers University and completed her master’s in animal law at Lewis and Clark Law School. Between her undergraduate and graduate studies, she worked as a wildlife naturalist in Alaska, teaching visitors about the flora and fauna of Chichagof Island. She also interned at a wildlife rehabilitation center in New Jersey and volunteered in their rehabilitation hospital.
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Year
2024
  • 2024
  • 2025
Date and Direction
Sep 29 - Oct 05 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Jul 13 - Jul 19 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Aug 03 - Aug 09 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Sep 07 - Sep 13 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Sep 21 - Sep 27 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Sep 29 - Oct 05 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Oct 05 - Oct 11 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
Please Note: The program differs on certain dates.
Please Note: The program differs on certain dates.
Select trip year and date
2024
  • 2024
  • 2025
Sep 29 - Oct 05 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Jul 13 - Jul 19 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Aug 03 - Aug 09 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Sep 07 - Sep 13 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Sep 21 - Sep 27 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Sep 29 - Oct 05 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
  • Oct 05 - Oct 11 (Seattle to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Seattle
D
Crowne Plaza Seattle Airport

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration & Orientation: After you have your room assignment, head to the conference room at 5:00 p.m. to register with the Road Scholar program staff, which is also where our Orientation session will take place. You’ll receive a welcome packet with up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, and other important information. If you will arrive later than 8:00 p.m., please ask for your packet when you check in. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Our Group Leaders will also serve as our hiking instructors throughout the program. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the Conference Room, we’ll enjoy a catered Northwest-style dinner plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
2
Deception Pass Gorge, Fidalgo Island, to San Juan Island
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
B,L,D
Friday Harbor Suites

Activity note: Hiking approx. 2.5 miles near Deception Pass; about 2 hours depending on group pace. Rolling terrain, dirt paths, gravel in some areas, uneven footing, some exposed rocks and roots on the trail. Ferry ride is approx. 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: You'll receive a breakfast voucher. Breakfast is served in the lobby restaurant.

Morning: We'll travel by motorcoach to Fidalgo Island for a mid-morning hike along the northern shoreline of the Deception Pass Gorge led by our Group Leader and trail experts. The Deception Pass area is a dramatic seascape where the tidal flow and whirlpools beneath the twin bridges connecting Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island move quickly. We'll hike beaches, forested bluffs, and rocky headlands that offer picturesque vistas of the area and opportunities to spot wildlife.

Lunch: We’ll have our sack lunches featuring a sandwich, chef's choice side (whole fresh fruit, chips, or deli salad), beverage, and a chef’s choice fresh bakery treat for everyone.

Afternoon: Next, we'll board our motorcoach and travel northward to Anacortes where we'll transfer to the WA State ferry bound for San Juan Island. You may wish to enjoy the view from the inside passenger cabins or from the outside decks as we take our 1.5 hour journey through the archipelago to Friday Harbor. Upon arrival at the dock we’ll walk about 5 blocks to the hotel to check in.

Dinner: At the hotel cafe, we’ll enjoy a tasty buffet meal featuring salad, a main entrée, sides, vegetables, and dessert, plus coffee, tea, and water. Other beverages will be available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll then be joined in the hotel conference room by a local resident expert who will offer an insider’s look at contemporary life in the Islands and explores issues affecting island life.

DAY
3
San Juan Islands National Park Wildlife & Hike American Camp
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
B,L,D
Friday Harbor Suites

Activity note: Hiking approx. 4 miles total on four separate segments; opportunities to shorten or opt out of route segments based on personal preference to abbreviate the total route length. Well maintained trail in most places, some gravel beach, watch for erosion on trails close to cliff edge; rocky shoreline and upland trails have several short modest elevation gains, including one section with elevation gain of approx. 300 feet.

Breakfast: A breakfast featuring hot and cold choices and beverages will be served in the hotel cafe.

Morning: After breakfast, we’ll gather in the hotel conference room for a presentation from a local expert on our local resident orca pods. We’ll also hear recordings of a uniquely social population using their “language” to communicate with one another. A quick review of the day’s hikes will follow. Later in the morning we’ll head out to the trail! Traveling via vans, our route will be divided into four segments, so opportunities to shorten your hiking for the day are available. You may choose to hike any or all of the four segments as you wish.

Lunch: Out on the trail, we’ll have our sack lunches featuring a sandwich, chips, beverage, and a chef’s choice fresh bakery treat for everyone.

Afternoon: Hiking will continue throughout the afternoon along the coastal prairie and bluffs in the San Juan Island National Historic Park at American Camp featuring views of the Haro Strait, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic Mountains, and Vancouver Island. We’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Served in the hotel cafe. Coffee, tea, and water are provided and other beverages may be purchased.

Evening: Gathering in the hotel conference room, we’ll attend a presentation given by a local guest artist showcasing the creative and artistic spirits that are abundant in these islands.

DAY
4
Orcas Island Hiking, Moran State Park
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
B,L
Friday Harbor Suites

Activity note: Hiking approx. 6.5 miles total over the course of the day on two hiking segments: Mountain Lake Loop is approx. 4 miles, up to 2.5 hours, on woodland trail with root and rock outcroppings, around 920 feet in elevation; Little Summit Trail is approx. 2 miles, about 1 hour, around 390 foot gradual decrease in elevation. Getting on/off vans; total driving distance of about 20 miles, with stops; transfers of approx. 1/2 hour. Getting on/off ferry; ride to Orcas Island is less than 1 hour one way.

Breakfast: Early breakfast served in hotel cafe.

Morning: At the dock, we'll board the ferry for a ride to the neighboring Orcas Island where we’ll go on a hike in the old growth forest as we circumnavigate Moran State Park's Mountain Lake, a local favorite for serenity and immersion with nature. At the end of the hike, we’ll take a van to the summit of Mt. Constitution to savor incredible marine views of the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands.

Lunch: At the summit of Mt. Constitution, we’ll enjoy our sack lunches.

Afternoon: Our hikes will continue on Orcas Island with the Little Summit Trail, which affords beautiful views of eastern Orcas Island and Rosario Strait from periodic vantage points. We’ll finish up our hike in the late afternoon and take the return ferry to the hotel on San Juan Island.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Friday Harbor. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Hike San Juan Island, Mt. Young, British Camp, Roche Harbor
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
B,L,D
Friday Harbor Suites

Activity note: Hiking approx. 5.5 to 6.5 miles total for the day, dependent on personal preference. Mount Young hike is approx. 4 miles; about 2 hours; elevation gain of about 650 feet; well-maintained trails. Bell Point Loop is approx. 1 mile; less than 1 hour; well-maintained flat trail. Afternoon Choice 1: 1/2 mile walk. Choice 2: approx. 1.5 mile hike; logging roads and well-maintained trails, some tree roots and minor rocky footing in sections. Driving approx. 14 miles for the day; about 1/2 hour total.

Breakfast: Served in the hotel cafe

Morning: After breakfast,we’ll gather in the hotel conference room for a presentation by a local expert from San Juan Island Preservation Trust Stewardship, which will highlight a rare island ecology and the wildlife supported by these habitats. A quick review of the day’s hikes will follow. Later in the morning we’ll transfer in vans to head out to the trail! Opportunities to shorten the overall hiking distance available to those who wish. For the first leg of our trek within San Juan Island National Park, we’ll climb up Mount Young and make our way over and down into English Camp on the shores of Garrison Bay. Lovely views of the surrounding islands from atop the mountain makes for a fulfilling morning hike.

Lunch: At English Camp National Park, we’ll enjoy our sack lunches.

Afternoon: Easier going, the Bell Point Loop on the shores of serene Garrison Bay offers a more relaxed and serene shoreline trail with no elevation gain. Upon completion of Bell Point Loop, we’ll transfer via vans to historic Roche Harbor Village on the Island’s northwest corner. While in Roche Harbor, we’ll have a choice two walking activities that you may choose to do on own. Choice 1: Set out on a short stroll through an outdoor sculpture park where we’ll view various works of art and sculptures. Choice 2: Self-exploration of Roche Harbor Resort and it’s gardens and marina. John McMillan was the founder of the Roche Harbor Lime Company and built the Hotel del Haro, which we know today as Roche Harbor Resort. In the late afternoon, we’ll return by vans to the hotel.

Dinner: Served in the hotel cafe. Coffee, tea, and water are provided and other beverages may be purchased.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a beloved local musician in the hotel conference room and treated to an exclusive musical performance.

DAY
6
San Juan Island Coastal Hike, Wildlife, Free Time
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
B,L,D
Friday Harbor Suites

Activity note: Hiking approx. 2.5 miles; about 2 hours with rest breaks; gently rolling terrain at sea level, well maintained single or double track dirt paths throughout.

Breakfast: Served in the hotel cafe.

Morning: A wildlife rehabilitation expert will join us in the hotel conference room to begin our morning with an informative presentation about the wildlife that call the San Juan Islands home. We’ll learn about the rehabilitation efforts and techniques of the organization while also learning about the specific characteristics of local species. Following our presentation, we’ll set out via vans for a hike along the grassy shorelines and beaches of San Juan Island starting from Jakle’s Lagoon parking area. We’ll experience the peacefulness of the national park's American Camp and Griffin Bay area beneath the cedar and fir canopy with its pristine lagoons and estuaries until we conclude near Cattle Point Lighthouse at the island’s southern tip.

Lunch: At Cattle Point’s picnic tables with wonderful marine views, we’ll enjoy our sack lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll then take some time to independently explore Cattle Point Interpretive Area, which includes views of the neighboring Lopez Island, shorebirds and cetaceans, the restored lighthouse, and remnants of the Navy radio station that was in operation from the 1920s through the 1930s. Returning to hotel in the mid-afternoon, take some time to enjoy Friday Harbor independently, or just relax.

Dinner: At the hotel cafe, we’ll have a tasty farewell dinner. Coffee, tea, and water are provided and other beverages may be purchased.

Evening: In the hotel conference room, we'll have a short review of the program and tomorrow’s departure details. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:15 a.m. Ferry transfer to Anacortes, WA, is approx. 20 miles; about 1.5 hours. Driving approx. 100 miles from Anacortes to Seattle; about 2.5 hours. Drop-offs at SeaTac International Airport and the starting hotel will be at approximately 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., respectively. Scheduling outbound flights after 2:30 p.m. is advised.

Breakfast: Early breakfast will be served in the hotel cafe.

Morning: Once checked-out of the hotel, we’ll depart Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, via the Washington State Ferry. Upon docking, we’ll transfer to a chartered motorcoach and ride to Seattle with drop-offs at SeaTac International Airport and the starting hotel. This concludes our program. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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