Camp & Hike at the Deception Pass Headlands
Washington › Deception Pass State Park
Added by Gemina Garland-Lewis
The Deception Pass Headlands offers great views of Puget Sound and the Deception Pass bridge. There are fewer crowds than other areas of the park and easily accessible camping and hiking.
On the north side of the bridge, you'll come across Rosario Rd. Take this down to the Bowman Bay parking lot and your trailhead begins here. Take a moment to walk out on the fishing pier or watch what people are catching before you continue south on the trail towards Lottie Bay/Lighthouse Point. You'll come to an intersection that offers a fork to the left for Pass Lake/Highway 20, but keep to the right.
Soon enough, you'll hit a second intersection. You can opt to continue on towards Lighthouse Point here or take the left fork to do the quick 0.5 mile trail around Lottie Point. If you opt for the Lottie Point trail before continuing on, you'll have some great views of Deception and Canoe pass and the iconic bridge. This trail will bring you back around to where you left off and from here you can head towards Lighthouse Point.
Walking further on this trail you'll come to another fork that you'll recognize by a large burned and hollowed-out tree. Take the left fork to loop around the Lighthouse Point for some great views of North Beach across the way. When you come to the spot where you can drop down to the beach, take the opportunity to climb out on a large grassy outcrop and enjoy a snack over the water.
Continuing on, you'll get some great views of Puget Sound from higher up on the bluffs. Explore around these headlands and then loop back the way you came, following the same trail you came in on back to your car. Keep in mind that there are lots of little trails snaking around this higher area that generally end up taking you nowhere. It's easiest to just came back the way you came on the obvious loop otherwise you may end up bushwhacking.
Once you get back to the parking lot, keep on walking right past it towards Rosario Head to the north of Bowman Bay. Along the way you'll come across a totem pole of Kwuh-kwal-uhl-wut, the Maiden of Deception Pass and a legend of the Coast Salish people. Follow the trail to Rosario Head and enjoy the wide open expanse of the Sound. This is a great spot for a picnic or sunset before heading back the way you came to your car.
There are some good places to eat in Anacortes on your way back, but if you can hold out until Mt. Vernon then take yourself to the Skagit River Brewery for a well-deserved beer and good meal.
There are three options for camping at Deception Pass State Park: Cranberry Lake, Quarry Pond, and Bowman Bay. If you're planning on a winter trip; however, Quarry Pond will be your only option as the other two are closed seasonally. Keep in mind that in summer, camping reservations are in high demand and it's best to make your reservations as far out as possible. In winter, however, it's easy to show up without a reservation to Quarry Pond and find a free site. For advance reservations, make your plans here.
From I-5 in Mt. Vernon, take Exit 230 and head west towards Anacortes/Burlington on Highway 20. Keep on towards Anacortes and soon you'll see signs for Deception Pass. The trailhead for the Deception Pass headlands is north of the bridge, along with the Bowman Bay campground. Cranberry Lake and Quarry Pond campgrounds are south of the bridge.
- 10 Essentials
- Sleeping bag and pad
- Rain gear
- Camera and tripod for night photography
- Stove and fuel
- Enough food and snacks to keep you going
- Plenty of water - keep in mind that there is easily accessible potable water at campsites so you don't need to worry about a filter
- Discover Pass - if you don't already have an annual pass you can purchase day-use passes at various locations in the park
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Bowman Bay Winter Day Trip
We arrived and hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail south to and through the Lottie Trail, which gives you a view of the Deception Pass bridge. This took approx 45 min to an hour. It started raining as we were looping the Lottie Trail, so we headed back to the car for lunch. Note: there are a lot of ups and downs on the trail that get slick when wet. After lunch we braced ourselves for the wind and headed west on the PNW Trail toward the Rosario Trail and hiked the loop on Urchin Rock. There were some great-looking camping spots and Urchin Rock would be great for a picnic if the weather was nice. This took about the same amount of time and was about perfect with the wet and wind. The Bowman Bay parking area has restrooms and a fun pier. Day Pass parking is $10, if you don't have the annual Discover pass. I highly recommend following Hwy 20 south through the park and taking it to 525/to Clinton for a lovely drive and a ferry ride over to Mukilteo, if you're going back to the Seattle area.
Most amazing journey I've had since moving to the Great PNW. We were lucky to camp inside the state park and have two days of non-stop hiking with the dogs. We will definitely be back for more this summer!
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