Dan and Hannah Hike Deception Pass in Washington

How can we resist a visit to a place called Deception Pass?  We can’t.  We dedicate this hike to our niece Tara who told us, You will love Deception Pass!

DP 4B  the strait of DP the DP itself

Deception Pass

On this dazzling early June day, Hannah and I have come 70 miles north of Seattle to hike the seaside trails at Deception Pass State Park; it is located on Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands on Skagit Bay.  Hannah and I have some ancient history on these islands.

DP  Whidbey Island

You see 38 years ago this month, Hannah and I drove with her brother Doug and his then girlfriend Debbie 1500 miles from Tempe, AZ to Whidbey Island.   They had plans to spend the summer biking down the Pacific coast from Washington to California, then across the Mohave Desert back to Tempe in the Phoenix area.  I’m not sure how well that last leg of the trip was thought out.

DP  biking PCH

Biking the Pacific Coast Highway

Taking four to five days to arrive in the Northwest in Doug’s Econoline Van, we four camped at Whidbey Island before they set off biking and we drove the van home to Tempe.

DP  NAS Whidbey

Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island

Unbeknownst to us that night, there is Naval Air Station on the island, which periodically runs night missions with their jets.  And this was such a night.  It was like a freight train barreling through our tents.  By 330A Doug had had enough, got up, and drove to the naval station to give them a piece of his mind.

It did not go well.  The Navy said in so many words, Really?  We are the US Navy.  We are protecting, among your rights, your right to camp.  By dawn they stopped and we got a good three hours of sleep.  Now 38 years later we return to Whidbey Island.

DP logging truck 1

(By the way, Doug and Debbie got so sick of the logging trucks buzzing them as they pedaled down Route 101 on their panier-laden road bikes, that after nearly 700 miles of biking they packed up the bikes in Eureka, California and took a Greyhound bus back to Tempe.)

DP  Han by beach at

The trail begins at the beach

Today, using Everett, WA as our home base, we drive north on I-5, then turn west at Mount Vernon on route 20 to Deception Pass State Park.  Click here to get detailed description of hiking on Fidalgo Island at Deception Pass State Park.

DP 1 D at main beach at DP

After five days of hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, we are ready for some mellow seaside hiking and climbing.  Chatting up the campground host, we learn that we’ll hike trails on Fidalgo Island and then drive over the twin bridges to Whidbey Island itself to hike some more.

DP 1B  H overlooking Rosario Bay to Ocean

The evergreenness of Washington is again evident as we take to the beach trail before climbing into the hills above Bowman Bay.  In minutes we could be on a mountain in Washington’s Cascades, but we are always just a few minutes from Skagit Bay.

The trail climbs to a lookout facing towards the Pacific.  Warned that further hiking on this loop will take us on a “goat trail,” we poo poo the notion that we are not up for such a challenge.   Soon we are laboring, plodding along the steep mountainside, scrambling through the thick underbrush, and very soon doubling back with egg on our faces.

DP 4 H on twin bridge

On the twin bridge

After lunch, we drive across the twin bridges over a strait from Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island.  Straddling the twin bridges, Deception Pass State Park with its campgrounds, beaches, and tide pools is the most visited state park in all of Washington.

At the trailhead with very limited parking, we prepare for the popular Goose Rocks hike.  There we see the sign describing how Deception Pass got its name.

DP 3 DP explanation

To the north of this narrow passage is Fidalgo Island, so named for the Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo.  To the south is Whidbey Island, second largest island in the contiguous 48 states, which Captain George Vancouver, while exploring this region in 1792, at first thought to be a peninsula.  Further exploration conducted by him disclosed the existence of this intricate channel.  Upon the realization that he had been deceived as to the character of the large island, Vancouver gave to this channel the name of Deception Passage.  In naming the Island he honored his trusted officer, Joseph Whidbey.

DP 3B  from top of Whidbey Island part of DP

From Goose Rocks

Climbing the half mile to Goose Rock summit, we are in minutes into the forest on a trail of hard packed dirt.  The contrast with our river/waterfall hiking of the past days complements our Northwest hiking experience.

Fortunately, on this first Friday of June, when we are heading back againist traffic to Everett, WA, everyone else in the Free World is heading out for a weekend getaway.

PS  The same day this blog was originally posted, a loyal reader received this picture taken from the twin bridges of Deception Pass.  Enjoy.DP  barge through DP

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