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Patos Island

Puget Sound and Islands > San Juan Islands
48.7846, -122.9641 Map & Directions
1.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
30 feet
Highest Point
30 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Sunset at Patos Island is truly stunning. Photo by SeahawkHiker.
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Good for kids
  • Established campsites
  • Coast

Spanish for Duck Island, Patos Island is a hidden gem in the San Juan Islands. This is largely because of difficulty in accessing it, but if you make the effort, you won't be sorry! Continue reading

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Hiking Patos Island

Spanish for Duck Island, Patos Island is a hidden gem in the San Juan Islands. This is largely because of difficulty in accessing it, but if you make the effort, you won't be sorry!

If you don't own a boat to get to the island, you can take advantage of a chartered boat or a long kayak trip from Orcas Island. Note that because there is no dock, any craft that approaches it must dock on shore, and the cove has strong currents, which can make docking difficult if you find either of the two moorage buoys unoccupied.

If you can overcome these obstacles, you'll find several paid camping spots with grated fire pits and pit toilets. But there's no potable water — if you're planning on staying, bring all the water you'll need with you.

Hiking on Patos Island comes in the form of a 1.5 mile loop trail that is well maintained by a volunteer crew. The path weaves its way along the outside of the island, meandering roughly 30 feet above Puget Sound. This elevation gives hikers awe-inspiring views of the water through droves of deep red Pacific Madronas.

As you approach the northwest tip of the island, the dirt path gives way to cracked concrete, where a grass field separates a lighthouse from the dense woods. There is six-foot tall grass on either side of the path, giving the area a distinct feeling of solitude and peacefulness.

Once you reach the lighthouse, the tall rows of grass give way to a manicured lawn. Take in views of the lighthouse, then visit the bluffs, where you may find seals and shorebirds resting on the rocks or diving into the Sound.

Interpretive displays inside showcase the history of the lighthouse. Inside, visitors can climb the light tower and learn about lighthouses. 

Continue along the loop around the rest of the island, taking in stunning views of Puget Sound and enjoying the solitude on this infrequently-visited island.

Note on the Area: Patos Island is now part of the San Juan Islands National Monument, created 5 years ago. Since 2008 a friends group, Keepers of the Patos Light, has opened up the lighthouse most of the summer from Memorial Day Weekend through mid September. Most days during this time period, there is a docent on site to welcome visitors.
There are well maintained campsites available on a first come, first serve basis, as well as two composting toilet units. Please remember if you pack something in, to pack it out. and that there is no fresh water on the island.

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Patos Island

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.7846, -122.9641 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Patos Island is only accessible by boat. Make arrangements to arrive at Patos by using the Patos Water Taxi, or plan a trip using your own watercraft!

More Hike Details


Puget Sound and Islands > San Juan Islands

Bureau of Land Management

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Patos Island

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