Mt. Constitution Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

4.8 mi
1,819 ft
7.2 %


Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton LaQuinta, CA, USA and Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA; William Meredith, Seattle, WA


Mt. Constitution is very challenging and the best climb on Orcas Island. This climb has exceptional views of the Strait of Jaun de Fuca.

"The climb of Mount one of the most scenic in the U.S. and carries a solid and stout grade. Almost the entire climb is steep all the way up to Little Summit and gets there through some solid switchbacks. At the listed top you can continue to climb over much more shallow grade to the end of the road...Statistics for the full climb from the town of Rosario are 7.6 miles at 5.8% average grade which seems to mask the fierce main section. Weather is a big factor on Northwest climbs and particularly so on this isolated hill so make sure you go prepared." (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Ed., pg. 224.)
This ride is all climb and no descent.  The crux of this climb is the 2.2 miles beginning at mile 0.8 which averages 9.5%.  There is a continuous half-mile on the route averaging 10.4%.  65% of the climb (2.7 miles) is between 5% and 10%, and 18% (0.8 mile) is at 10-15%.  There is no section on the climb that exceeds 15% grade. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Roadway surface is good.  This is a narrow road and a tight descent so beware the hairpins at 10% grade beginning about 2 miles down from the top. 

Traffic;  This depends on the season, day of week and time of day.  Weekdays and during the off season are best.  Traffic can be heavy on weekends during tourist season. 

Parking:  There are spots along the road at or before the start of the climb to park. 
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Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
This climb is in Moran State Park.  See AllTrails Best Hikes Moran State Park if you are interested in hiking in the park. Also be sure to enjoy the views at the top (climb finish) and make the short hike to the observation tower accessed from the parking lot at the top - Google Map + Reviews; 360 Degree View

Orcas Island is a beautiful vacation destination in Washington state, with no shortage of amazing places to stay, including both hotels and awesome vacation rentals.  You won't regret spending a little extra time in this area!



Difficulty: Challenging



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Olympic NP: Hurricane Ridge
United States (WA), Canada
19 POIs


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Jul 9, 2021
difficulty: Challenging
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 4
Jul 9, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 4
I climbed this with our 7 year old granddaughter on a tagalong. What a beautiful ride, the scenery is magnificent. the roads and traffic are just acceptable considering it was a holiday weekend. I noticed they have a couple gates they close at Dusk. that could make for some interesting potential for a car free ride.
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panoramic view of Washington Mountains, Puget sound, and evergreen tree branches in foreground

Cycling Mt. Constitution, Orcas Island, Washington

Ride 4.8 miles gaining 1,840’ at 7.3% average grade.

View of Mount Baker from Mt. Constitution Observation Tower.

Before heading to gorgeous Washington state on your cycling adventure, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.

Climb summary by PJAMM’s John Johnson.

Cycling Mt. Constitution, Washington - photo collage, PJAMM Cyclists stand at summit of Mt. Constitution and pose with their bikes, aerial drone view of observation tower at climb's summit, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Mt. Constitution is the highest point in the Orcas Island (the largest of the San Juan Islands at the far northwestern tip of the US).  From the observation tower atop Mt. Constitution, visitors have magnificent 360 degree views that include Mount Baker (northeast), the North Cascades Mountain Range (east), and other islands of the San Juan Archipelago (consisting of over 400 islands, 128 of them named) including clockwise from the northwest Waldron, Cypress, Blakely, Decatur, Lopez, Shaw, and San Juan Islands.

Ride past camping grounds and Cascade Lake on your way to the start.

Enter the park about a ½ mile from the start.

This climb is located entirely within Moran State Park (5,000+ acres, established 1921) which was donated to Washington State by shipbuilder Robert Moran.

Turn off Olga Road onto Mt. Constitution Road to begin the climb.

Cross the one lane bridge over Paul Creek at 7/10ths of a mile.

Ride through thick northwestern forest the length of the climb.

Flowers and . . .

. . . wildlife along the route.

two PJAMM Cyclists stand with bikes at halfway point of route 

Bruce and Stacy at the hairpin, mile 2.3 (about half-way).

Pass Summit Lake at mile 4.

Visitor Center at the completion of the climb.

Mt. Constitution Observation Tower at the top of the climb.

The observation tower is accessed from the parking lot at the top of the climb by a short gravel path.  There is a gift shop and learning center located in the observation tower.

Views from the top

How to Get to Orcas Island:  The primary and most scenic mode of travel to Orcas Island is via the Washington State Ferry from Anacrotes, WA.  The fee for one person and standard vehicle is $10 each direction as of August 2019.

a ferry boat travels along Puget Sound, Washington

Seattle State Ferry from Anacrotes to Orcas Island.

Photo:  Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce.

PJAMM on board and en route!!

Harbor and Orcas Island Ferry Terminal.

Cycling Mt. Constitution, Washington - three PJAMM Cyclists stand with bikes at summit of ride 

Bruce, Stacy, and Bob adjacent Observation Tower, Mt. Baker in background.

Celebrating Bob’s 76th birthday: 76 miles, 7,600’ of climbing (guess how many next year?? 😉).