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Turtle-Back Range

This range is on the western peninsula of the island with an upper elevation of 1,497 ft., extending about five miles southwest and northeast. The name was placed on British admiralty charts by Capt. Henry Richards, of the Royal Navy in 1859. The profile of the range as viewed from the east, has a resemblance to the back of a turtle.

On the southernmost summit of the Turtleback Range is an old marker, the origin of which has mystified the island’s inhabitants since the earliest days. It consists of small boulders arranged on the ground in the shape of a large anchor, and is supposed to have been placed here by the survivors of some early shipwreck, more than 100 years ago.

The anchor still remains and with Turtleback Mountain under public trust, plans are underway for a full blown archaeological examination of the stone marker in the near future.

In 2006, Turtleback Mountain was the focus of an island-wide conservation campaign. Faced with the prospect of private development, advocates and a collective of local land trusts raised a princely sum to purchase nearly 1,600 acres on the mountain, ensuring public access and natural habitat in perpetuity.


Footage of horseback riders sight-seeing on Orcas Island. Footage courtesy of the Washington State Archives.