This trail starts at the south entrance to Turtleback Mountain Preserve. Take Deer Harbor Road to Wildrose Lane, a small side road. Turn north onto Wildrose Lane. The parking area is found almost immediately on Wildrose Lane. A large trailhead sign marks the trail start.
There are a few unnamed and unsigned trails that are not shown on the park map, and not all trail junctions are completely marked. So be alert to stay on the trail you want to hike.
South Trail enters the woods at the trailhead sign and begins climbing gradually. Soon, at the 0.2 mile mark, is a trail juction. Go right (east) here, in the direction towards Ship Peak, to continue on South Trail. Continuing to climb gradually through the woods, the trees begin to thin, and there are glimpses of the San Juan Islands through the trees. Around the 0.5 mile mark, the woods give way to hillside rocky grass meadows dotted with trees. The hillside drops off to the right (west), showing unobstructed views extending into the far distance—the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island of Canada.
At the 0.7 mile mark, the trail veers left, and there is a trail junction with Morning Ridge Trail
. Go left here to continue on South Trail. Continuing to climb, South Trail reaches the West Overlook after another 0.2 miles. This is a grassy knoll with a bench. The hillside drops off to the west with awesome views of water and islands into the far distance.
Almost immediately after West Overlook, there is another trail junction with Morning Ridge Trail
. Go left here, following the arrow on the sign to Ship Peak. The trail then goes through a short wooded section as it climbs to the ridge top and flattens out. Ship Peak Spur
—well worth taking—is reached at the 1.4 mile mark. Continuing in thin woods after passing Ship Peak Spur
, South Trail passes a couple of vaguely marked trail junctions with trails that are not on the park trail map. Stay to the right/straight at these trail junctions to continue on South Trail.
South Trail ends at a trail juction with Lost Oak Trail
and Ridge Trail
deep in the Turtleback Mountain Preserve woods after 1.8 miles.
Woods—firs and deciduous trees that turn bright yellow in the fall. Higher up there are rocky grass meadows with great views.