Monday, April 09, 2007

Deception Pass State Park, Washington

You will soon learn why this the most visited state park in Washington. To get to the northernmost section of the park, drive Highway 20 west from I-5 toward Anacortes. Head 6.8 miles on Hwy 20 (not the spur that goes into Anacortes) from the intersection at Reservation Road toward Deception Pass State Park. At a low brown sign for the park, turn right on Rosario Road, then an immediate left on Bowman Bay Rd. Drive .5 mile to the first parking lot, on the left.

Ahead of you is Bowman Bay, with tall forest surrounding the water. The lush vegetation is broken only by rolling lawns, perfect for picnicking. Across the lawn from the parking lot is the CCC interpretative center, with exhibits and memorabilia commemorating the Corps--well worth a few moments of time.

Strolling the beach or walking the long fishing dock are options, but for a bit more activity and interesting views, try one of the three hikes from the parking lot. Our favorite was the Lighthouse Point trail. To reach this trail, walk toward the fishing dock to find the trail at the edge of the tall grass. At low tide it is possible to walk along the beach around the rocky cliff and over the saddle between Bowman and Lottie Bays. If the tide is in, stick to the trail as it climbs over the rocky point. At a signpost, turn right down hill toward the beach. Walk the beach for about 50 feet then take the trail that veers through the thicket. As you start climbing up away from the bays, ignore right forks, including the one with the fire-scarred tree (that is your return route).

The trail continues through the forest, with views of the passes and bridge, Deception Island and the Strait of Rosario. The “lighthouse” is on a point separated from the trail by a channel and consists of a metal stand with a light on it. The state park brochure states:”hiking to the lighthouse is dangerous and prohibited.” Some side trails detour out for better views of the water. Along the way, you may see bald eagles, pigeon guillemots, blue heron and, depending on the season, many other water birds. From the west viewpoints, on a clear day, the snow capped Olympic Mountains rise above the water in the distance.

The trail makes a loop to pass by the fire-scarred tree you saw on your way out. After rejoining the outbound portion, turn left and return the way you came–depending on the tide! If you crossed the beach coming out, look for a trail that climbs up hill to your right as you make your way back to the rocky cliff near the head of Lottie Bay. At a T intersection, a signpost points you back the CCC Interpretive Center near the parking lot.

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