One of the best things about the San Juan Islands are the number of marine state parks that can be visited by marine craft, self-propelled or driven by an inboard/outboard engine. The island is remote enough to keep the less sea-savvy visitors away, but close enough to tempt those with enough skill and sense of adventure to meet the challenge of crossing a semi-protected stretch of saltwater and camp overnight on this treasured island. On a calm day, it’s an easy hour ride in an inflatable to the dock in the north cove. Here you can see picturesque Turtleback Mountain towering over Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, your point of departure for Jones Island.
Photo courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Ecology
Many campers prefer the south bay with its grassy tent sites, fire rings, and picnic tables with enough driftwood for a cooking fire. Sandy beaches and trails invite exploration. The mile-long East trail gives an opportunity for wildlife viewing and scenic shoreline vistas while the West trail is longer, has more elevation gain, and leads a hiker along a jaw-dropping section above the sharp rocky shoreline! Black-tail deer and raccoon live on the island in abundance, so it’s prudent to strictly obey the no feeding wildlife rules and stow those picnic items in secure containers.
Jones Island was named for naval officer Jacob Michael Jones by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841. Jones was born on a farm in Delaware in 1768, but was orphaned at age four. He pursued medicine, becoming a doctor, and was later appointed Clerk of the Delaware Supreme Court. It is surmised that he joined the United States Navy in 1799, at the unusual older age of 31, because of his grief at losing his wife, Anna Matilda Sykes. He started his long career at sea as a Midshipman and became a Commodore, holding that position until his death on August 3, 1850.
Jacob Michael Jones
Commodore Jacob Jones had more than an island named after him, but three U.S. Navy destroyers from 1916 to 1943. The photo below is of the USS Jacob Jones (DD-130), a Wickes-class destroyer, commissioned in 1919, and used during WWII.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…” (Isaiah 53:4-6 – NKJV)
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