Best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park

Expat Escapades June 2016 - LiveRecklessly.com

Home to rugged coastal headlands and dense forest, peaceful coves and picture-perfect panoramas of the Olympic Mountains, Deception Pass State Park offers gorgeous surrounds for hiking and sight-seeing.

Its immense reputation is matched by its proportions. By numbers, Deception Pass State Park has 4,134 acres of ancient forest, 15 miles of saltwater shoreline, four freshwater lakes, three campgrounds & 38 miles of hiking trails. There’s a huge abundance of wildlife too – including 174 species of birds.

Regularly listed as one of Washington’s most stunning state parks, it’s also one of the most visited, attracting approximately 2 million tourists each year.

I find myself in this park at least once a fortnight, and will always take out of town guests here.

Fun fact: Deception Pass was named so by Captain George Vancouver, who mistakenly believed these islands were a peninsula. Vancouver was the first European to identify the passage between Whidbey and Fidalgo islands, though the area had been home to coastal Salish tribes for thousands of years.

Without further ado, here are my favourite sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park.

Sights

Those without the time to hike this beautiful state park can still access stunning views. The iconic Deception Pass Bridge – which is on the National Register of Historic Places – is the best place to start.

Vista points can be found at either end of the bridge, however the north end offers the most dramatic views, where the rugged cliffs drop to meet the turbulent waters of Deception Pass. It’s pretty fascinating to observe the tidal flow and whirlpools below.

I’d recommend parking in the lot on the south end of the bridge (Whidbey Island side), and use the pedestrian lanes to walk across the bridge. You’ll be rewarded with views of not only the pass, but surrounding islands and Olympic Mountains too. Take time to observe the water below, as on clear days you can often see seals below!

Best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park- LiveRecklessly.com

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

 

Hiking

The best way to explore Deception Pass State Park is on foot. The old-growth forest is enchanting to wander through – and there are 38 miles of trails to experience!

Hiking trails at Deception Pass are extremely well marked and very accessible for most visitors. Most trails are easy or moderate, so you can experience the best of the park without having to be extremely fit.

Goose Rock Summit & Perimeter Trail

Either head straight to the summit, or take the longer scenic route via the Perimeter Trail. The Perimeter Trail is my preferred, winding its way around the channel to Cornet Bay, before ascending the back side of Goose Rock. End on a high note (literally) and admire the sweeping views below, then take the Summit Trail’s direct route back down.

Easy to moderate. Approx. 2.3 miles total. The Summit Trail is only 0.3 miles.

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park- LiveRecklessly.com

Headlands Trail – Bowman Bay to Rosario Head, Lottie Point and Lighthouse Point

On the Fidalgo Island side lies a series of headland trails leading to stunning vista points of the Pass channel, islands, Olympic mountains and views back toward the famous bridge.

Ample parking is available at Bowman Bay, and using this as your start point, begin with the short loop trail to Rosario Head. Once arriving back at Bowman Bay, head out toward Lottie Point, then Lighthouse Point.

I’ve hiked out to these headlands on three occasions, and each time I spot seals and porpoise so close to shore!

Easy. Approx. 5 miles with just 350ft elevation gain. More details here.

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Beach Trails

Deception Pass State Park has nearly 15 miles of shoreline, so there’s many beautiful waterfronts and beaches to explore.

Wander the length of the park’s most popular beaches, starting from rocky West Point, along North Beach to Gun Point, then Macs Cove.  It’ll take you all the way to the base of the bridge, where picnic tables await.

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park- LiveRecklessly.com

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Pass Lake Loop

Another trail one on the north side of the bridge.  Pass Lake Loop Trail winds through the forest along the freshwater lake’s west side. This area is a popular fishing spot, and the trail connects to both the Ginnett Trail and Naked Man Valley.

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Hoypus Hill Trails

Slightly further away from the tourist grind lie the quiet hidden trails of Hoypus Hill & Hoypus Point. If you’re looking for serene forested trails, this is the place to spend your time.

There are a number of interconnecting trails around the hills, so bring a map. Cornet Bay Marine Area has a parking lot to use as your jump-off point.

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Explore from the water

Want to admire the views from the water by fast boat or kayak?

Deception Pass Tours take you under the famous bridge and surrounding waters by jet boat.

Kayak tours allow visitors to discover the calmer waters and wildlife in the park. Those up for a challenge of strength and balance should sign up for a SUP Yoga class with Sound Yoga and SUP!

It’s worth noting that only experienced kayakers should navigate through the pass itself, as the currents are incredibly dangerous.

Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

Camping

Three campgrounds are available in Deception Pass State Park. Quarry Pond campground is open year-round. Cranberry Campground is a forest site, and Bowman Bay is a fantastic beachside option – these two campgrounds are seasonal.

Reservations can be made online.

The Finer Details

You’ll require a Discover Pass to park your car in the main parking lot, the south end of bridge lot, or Bowman Bay. Fee is $10 per day, or $30 for an annual pass that enables access to all Washington State Parks.

There is a very small parking lot at the Fidalgo Island end of the bridge that does not require a pass. It’s more for those taking a quick look from the scenic viewpoint.

Have you visited Deception Pass State Park? What are your favourite hikes or activities?

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Discover the best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington State's most beautiful protected areas - LiveRecklessly.com

 

10 Comment

  1. This looks incredible! I’m planning on visiting the east coast of American next year and will have to put Deception Pass State Park on my things to do. It looks so beautiful! And that photo of the bridge at the beginning of the post is stunning – what a great capture with the fog.

    1. Thanks Soraya! Deception Pass is actually on the West Coast, just a few hours drive north of Seattle. It’s a beautiful area even when it is foggy… which is quite often 🙂 Hopefully you’ll make it here one day – let me know if you do!

  2. Lovely article! Great articles and recommendations 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words!

  3. What a great comprehensive rundown on this striking part of the world. What a great name is ‘Goose Rock’

    1. Thanks Julie! Goose Rock is a funny name, I should try to find out why it was called that!

  4. Love the article! Very informative and such lovely images.

    1. Thanks Puja! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Your photos are absolutely stunning!!!

    1. Thanks for the lovely compliment! I’m still a total novice photographer, but practice makes perfect doesn’t it? x

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