Upper Cascade Falls, Moran State Park, Orcas Island, Washington

Getty Images/Minden Pictures RM

Moran State Park

San Juan Islands

In 1911 Robert Moran donated 7 sq miles of his property to create this park on the eastern saddlebag of Orcas Island. The park is dominated by 2409ft Mt Constitution, the archipelago's highest point. On a clear day you can see Mt Rainier, Mt Baker, Vancouver's north shore and a patchwork of tree-carpeted islands floating like emerald jewels on a blue crystalline ocean. To see above the lofty firs, a 53ft observation tower was erected in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corp.

For drivers, the mountain has a paved road to the summit, though the view is infinitely better if you earn it via a 4.3-mile hike up from Cascade Lake's North End Campground or a 5-mile cycle that begins just past Cascade Lake. Beginners beware: the grade is a persistent 7% with frequent hairpin turns.

The park's two major bodies of water, Cascade Lake and Mountain Lake, offer campgrounds, good trout fishing, rentable paddleboats and rowboats, picnic areas and swimming beaches. The lakes are also ringed by hiking trails and linked via a pleasant wooded ramble that passes the spectacular 100ft-high Cascade Falls.

Of the 38 miles of trails, about 11 are open seasonally for mountain biking. Get a trail map from the park headquarters at the southern end of Cascade Lake.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby San Juan Islands attractions

1. Moran Museum

2.95 MILES

Set in the Rosario Resort & Spa, these rooms around the hotel's lobby tell the life and times of former Seattle mayor, shipbuilder and groundbreaking…

3. Orcas Island Historical Museum

3.76 MILES

Housed in a series of six original homesteader cabins dating from the 1880s, this island museum relates the pioneer and local history of Orcas and the San…

4. Turtleback Mountain Preserve

6.24 MILES

Saved from possible development when it was bought for $18.5 million as public land in 2007, Orcas' second mountain (rising to 1519ft) was in private…

7. Spencer Spit State Park

9.99 MILES

Spencer Spit State Park is one of only four state parks on the San Juan archipelago. Two sand spits have formed a marshy lagoon that is a prime spot for…

8. Port Stanley Schoolhouse

10.57 MILES

The restored 1917 schoolhouse is run by the local historical society and offers a good photo op. To get to the schoolhouse from Lopez Village, take the…