Outdoors

Trail of the Week: Goose Rock and Deception Pass

Goose Rock at Deception Pass State Park offers sweeping views.
Goose Rock at Deception Pass State Park offers sweeping views. craig.hill@thenewstribune.com

Goose Rock and Deception Pass

HIKE DESCRIPTION: Before you even step out of the car, it’s easy to see why Deception Pass might be Washington’s most iconic state park.

The natural scenery accented by the bridges linking Fidalgo and Whidbey islands via Pass Island makes for epic photo opps. Standing on the bridge and watching the rushing current below, it’s easy to see why this park draws more than 2 million visitors per year.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid crowds in the summer, but in the winter it’s not uncommon to have the trails and beaches almost to yourself for long stretches of time.

There are 38 miles of trails in this 4,134-acre park. The park is a popular destination for bird-watching, fishing, scuba diving, kayking and camping. For a quick sampling of the park, the Goose Rock area at the north end of Whidbey Island is a good place start.

From the parking area south of the bridges, follow the walking paths over the southern bridge to Pass Island, where you can descend to a spot ideal for a selfie that will include the 80-year-old bridge as the backdrop. From here, continue toward Fidalgo Island to take in the view from the second bridge.

After returning to the Whidbey Island side, find the well-marked Goose Rock Summit Trail below the bridge. Here you will climb to the highest point on the park’s Whidbey Island side. Along the way, the sounds of state Route 20 traffic quickly fade.

Be careful around the summit, as the rocky surface can be slippery when wet. At the top, hikers are rewarded with a sweeping view of the park, the mainland and Puget Sound, 484 feet below.

DIRECTIONS: From Exit 226 in Mount Vernon, leave Interstate 5 and follow state Route 536 northwest to state Route 20. Continue west onto Fidalgo Island, then head south on Route 20 toward Whidbey Island. Find parking on the right immediately after crossing the Deception Pass bridges.

DIFFICULTY RATING: 2 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).

MILES ROUND TRIP: 2.

ELEVATION GAIN: 500 feet.

BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: Year round.

MAP: Posted at trailhead kiosks and available for download at deceptionpassfoundation.org.

PASS: Discover Pass.

ALSO: A thunderous noise startled some in our party when we hiked here Dec. 18. This is a regular occurrence at Deception Pass and not one for concern. Jets from the nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Station often fly over the park. Dogs are permitted but must be on leash and owners must clean up after pets. Quarry Pond is the only campground open for winter camping, according to the park’s reservation website. Several geocaches are hidden in the park, including earthcaches on Goose Rock and Pass Island.

INFO: parks.state.wa.us and deceptionpassfoundation.org.

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