Outbound Collective logo

A Spring PNW hike to remember

By: PNW Happy Hikers + Save to a List

This story is presented by Oboz. 

My first spring PNW hike of the season was filled with blue skies, lots of native plants that got me excited for a fruitful foraging season, and even some splashing sea lions!

My Spring PNW hike

When the alarm went off on the morning of my group hike that I posted in PNW Happy Hikers & Backpackers, I quickly checked who was signed up and if there were any last-minute questions or communication regarding our plans before heading out to Deception Pass State Park. 

PNW Happy Hikers is a social group for hikers & backpackers that was built around connecting with others to explore the beauty of the trails in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you are new to the area and looking to meet others who share a love for the outdoors - or you are familiar with the area and looking to expand your network - our community is a resource and a platform to find more ways to get outside. You can join events that others have created or post your own event if you are heading out for a hike and would like some company.

A bridge over teal water with trees along the shoreline.

There was a 40% chance of rain in the forecast, but I have an affinity for rain and how it makes everything in nature so bright, juicy, and green! So, onward we went after making sure we were packed and prepared for a typical wet and rainy spring hike in the Pacific Northwest. 

I made sure I had my 10 essentials, snacks to share, a good raincoat, and waterproof footwear for the trail. I chose my Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boot since it’s super lightweight but provides excellent support and grip on slippery trails and is waterproof yet breathable. Plus, I love the color. This boot looks just as great grabbing lunch in town after the hike as it does on the trail!

A close-up of a hiker wearing leggings and purple hiking boots while walking over rooty moss.
I took my Oboz Katabatic Mids on this PNW hike!
A forest with a path through it and a trail sign that points to NW Goose Rock Summit Trail, Summit .4 miles, and Goose Rock Perimeter Trail.

Location, location

Deception Pass State Park is one of my favorite local parks to visit this time of year and definitely a worthy choice for my first official hike of the spring season. When you look it up on The Outbound app, you'll find several hiking trails and camping in the area. 

I love it for the soft forested trails that lead around the perimeter, the tall old-growth trees that filter golden sun rays through their branches, the rocky beaches that you can walk and search for treasures, and the bluffs and balds that tell a wordless story of the history of the land and how the park was formed thousands of years ago.

A person with dark black hair, a purple shirt, black leggings, and hiking boots is wearing a hiking pack and walking away from the camera in a lush forest.
A close-up of pink flowers.

Unique PNW flora

We started our PNW hike on the Goose Rock Perimeter Trail and immediately saw signs of spring. After crossing underneath the bridge, I saw a Flowering Red Current with its vibrant pink flowers bursting from the branches along with its bright green baby leaves. This plant is native to the Pacific Northwest, and I love to forage throughout the spring and summer months. 

Its flowers and berries are edible. You can use the berries to make jams, pies, juice, or syrup. I prefer the flowers and use them to infuse beverages - especially spirits.

Continuing along the trail, we heard some splashing and snorting out in the water and saw a pair of sea lions playing near the shore. This pair followed along, watching us intently as we hiked the rest of the perimeter trail!

A person is looking out over teal water with mountains off on the left shoreline and sparse trees in front of them.
A creature swims through water with a tree-lined shoreline in the background.

And fauna!

I noticed a log while I was trying to photograph the sea lions, and on it was another favorite spring find - a Licorice Fern! Also native to this region, Licorice Ferns are often found in shaded, damp areas and are partial to growing on the big leaf maple trees plentiful in the PNW. This little fern grows in the winter/spring and goes dormant during the hot summer temperatures. I can relate! 

The rhizome (similar to a root) is the favored edible part of this fern, as it contains a potent steroidal compound called osladin – which is said to be five hundred times sweeter than sucrose! Next to the Licorice Fern was a pile of pine cone shavings. Evidence that I was not the only one foraging along this trail - a chipmunk or a squirrel must have been nearby!

A close-up of a fern with a lot of ferns beneath it.
Looking down at a log full of a ripped up pine cone. The photographer's purple hiking boots are at the bottom of the photo.

By this time, we were nearing the end of the perimeter trail and were ready to head up to the summit of Goose Rock. But before the switchbacks started, we dipped down to the shore of Cornet Bay, passing several beautiful old Madrona trees. 

The Pacific Madrone is also native to this region, growing specifically along the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts. The berries, as well as the bark of the Madrona, are edible. People often eat fresh or dried berries, and the bark makes a refreshing tea reminiscent of cinnamon, earthy essence, and wood smoke.

Looking up toward the trees on a blue-sky day.
Unique papery bark peels off a tree in a forest. The lighting is very green and yellow.

To the summit

The trail takes a sharp right here, and we began the climb to the summit. After a few switchbacks, the landscape changed, and we stepped out into the balds. Balds are areas scraped to the bedrock by receding glaciers at the end of the last ice age. Take a closer look, and you can still see the striations in the rock. 

Being mindful to stay on the path, we observed moss, fungus, plants, and a few trees growing in the fragile meadow. It took Mother Nature thousands of years to build up enough topsoil to produce life up here.

A person is holding a jar of nuts while seated on a cliff over a forest. There is a body of water in the distance.

We enjoyed breakfast together while soaking up the sun and the impressive views of the Olympics, the neighboring San Juan Islands, and Cranberry Lake below. Not bad for our first spring PNW hike/foray!

A person is standing on a mossy cliff looking out over water with binoculars.
A bald eagle is flying over the camera.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

A peek through God's window

Heather Arnold