Hiking · Local Adventures

Local Adventures: Wandering Deception Pass State Park

I don’t often get up to Deception Pass State Park, simply due to mileage – and how busy it is. It is the most visited state park in Washington State, and sits on the north end of Whidbey Island. Usually when we go thru the park, we are heading on or off the island, crossing the bridge. We live on the south end of the island – and the island is 55 miles long.

It often is “dodge the tourists”, who somehow forget they are walking along a highway and will wander into traffic. The bridge has this weird allure to tourists and it’s often clogged with humanity. It’s in their bucket list to walk the bridge and look down far below. (Which granted, I do get, it’s a long bridge, and in 2 spans, covering 3 islands.)

Kirk had old friends come by this week, so we took them to see the sites. Being a midweek it was a lot less people. And that we went after work, even less. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been to the park in summer. We only go in the dead of winter, when there is almost no one outside.

We parked down at the corner of North and West Beaches, and headed out to North Beach, which at high tide is separated into multiple short beaches. Each one is connected by a rambling system of trails, social trails, and possibly rocks to wander across. The first views of the spans of the bridge come quickly, thru the trees.

From North Beach.

They took the rocks, I took the actual trail thru the woods, that comes out at the amphitheater.

Once we had enjoyed the beach, we headed back into the woods, and popped back out at the parking lot, down near Cranberry Lake. It was a nice evening so lots of people were in the swimming area of the lake.

We walked out to the trail thru the woods and the sand dunes, which is a mostly paved loop. It’s also part of the Pacific NorthWest Trail (PNT).

Cranberry Lake is very slowly filling in and turning into a meadow. You can see the edge of the lake, in the upper left. When I was in high school and we had moved here, the meadow was nowhere as big. It has been very steady in growing.

The trail has a side trail that goes out to the water. This is West Beach, which runs for miles and miles down the island. It faces the Salish Sea, straight down to the Pacific Ocean, which isn’t that far away as the Navy ships ply the water.

On West Beach, looking at Fidalgo Island in the background, with the small Deception Island in the foreground. The San Juan Islands are in the far distance. One can walk the beach below high tide line till they reach the NAS Whidbey Navy base.

A Sea Charcuterie Platter.

Gumweed. Growing in the sand dunes.

Being at the bridge, as the sun is setting, is a treat. On Fidalgo Island, looking across at North Beach.

Looking out to the Salish Sea, where the twin channels of Deception Pass mixes its water.

North beach thru the trees.

The spans of the bridge, which was built in 1935.

Sometimes when I stand here, I remember when I was 16 and I walked across the bridge the first time. I still love being here, and if it’s midweek and late, there are so few people.


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