Hike Along The Beautiful Pacific Northwest Coastline At This State Park

Spanning inland from the Hoh Rain Forest and Olympic Mountains, all the way to the sweeping cliffs overlooking the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean, Washington State is a nature haven. For breathtaking vistas of the beautiful Pacific Northwest coastline, hike along the trails at Deception Pass State Park.

Deception Pass State Park, located in Oak Harbor, has the distinct honor of being the most-visited state park in Washington. The 3,854-acre park spans across the two islands of Fidalgo and Whidbey. It has over 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline, as well as nearly 34,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. In the park, visitors will discover forested oceanfronts, wild beaches, coves, protected sand dunes, wetlands, and other natural wonders. "Deception Pass State Park's beauty knows no bounds," Deception Pass Park Foundation President Emily Gilbert told the Whidbey News-Times. "From the top of Goose Rock to the tide pools at Rosario Beach."

One of the best ways to explore Deception Pass is by setting off on foot and exploring the 38 miles of hiking trails that weave through the park's rich ecosystems bordering the coast.

Reaching higher heights

Notably at the park, adventurers can access the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. This 1,200-mile-long footpath — that stretches from Montana to Olympic National Park — offers ten miles of gorgeous hiking at the park. As you set off on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, you'll cross the Deception Pass bridge, an iconic bridge that connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island. Hikers (and road trippers) can take in 360-degree views of the surrounding islands, Puget Sound, and wild Pacific landscape below the historic manmade landmark.

Moreover, part of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail will lead you to Goose Rock, the tallest summit on Whidbey Island. You can also reach this peak by traveling along the scenic Goose Rock Perimeter Trail, which provides stunning views of the small inlet Cornet Bay. This route then connects to the Summit Trail, a steep path that leads you through a series of forested switchbacks and rocky meadows, known as "the Balds," before you make your final climb to the top. In the distance, you'll be able to spot Mount Baker, a glaciated volcano that looms over the North Cascades mountain range.

Hiking towards the shores

Not only does Deception Pass offer mountainous hiking with exceptional panoramic views but there are numerous paths that are closer to the sandy shores. The North Beach Trail is an out-and-back hike that passes through old-growth woodlands running parallel to the pebble-covered beach. You can take well-marked side paths that lead to different salty waterfronts and rocky outcroppings for more jaw-dropping seascapes. Of course, while at Deception Pass, you can't skip the visit to the popular Rosario Beach on Fidalgo Island. The 1.5-mile, family-friendly Rosario Head Trail begins at Bowman Bay, a peaceful cove where hikers can spend time relaxing. The route winds down a lively path where you can catch a glimpse of smaller coves before reaching Rosario Beach. Once here, you can spend time exploring tidepools brimming with marine creatures.

In addition to vistas of the Pacific and of the historic Deception Pass Bridge, there are spectacular coastal wildlife viewing opportunities on every path. If you look toward the ocean, you can commonly observe marine mammals like porpoises, seals, and the occasional whale. Bald eagles and other unique bird species nest along the trees that populate the skylines of Washington's Pacific coast. When wandering into the Washington wilderness, be sure to save a copy of Deception Pass State Park's official trail map since many of the hikes intersect. Whether day hiking or backpacking, Deception Pass State Park is a seaside oasis every outdoorsy traveler must add to their bucket list.