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Deception Pass Headlands - Rosario Head - Lighthouse Point

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Rugged coastal headlands, placid coves, tidal pools teeming with crusty critters, towering ancient evergreens, and breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains-Deception Pass State Park packs it in. And with waterfront campsites and easy access from Pugetopolis, it's easy to see why Deception Pass is Washington's most popular state park (over three million annual visitors). This hike samples the park's rugged northern headlands, delivering spectacular views of straits and bays and of Deception Pass itself, with its treacherous waters and majestic bridge.

With over 4000 acres and nearly 40 miles of trails, Deception Pass State Park offers far more than the small section this hike passes through. But what a section! From the CCC Interpretive Center you'll travel out and back to Rosario Head and then likewise for Lighthouse Point and Lottie Point. First, visit the CCC center to gain an appreciation of what FDR's Depression-era program did for our country. Hardworking corps were stationed right here at Deception Pass, transforming this corner of Washington into a prime state park. Trails, campgrounds, and sturdy structures throughout the park are all part of their legacy.

The trail for Rosario Head takes off west from the interpretive center. Under a canopy of stately firs and madronas, the well-built trail climbs 100 feet up a steep hillside flanking Bowman Bay. Pass a series of fine outlooks before slowly descending, reaching Sharpe Cove in 0.75 mile. Now, make the 0.3-mile loop around Rosario Head using caution: 50-foot cliffs on the west side drop straight to Rosario Strait. Savor views across salty waters to the San Juan Islands and the Olympic Mountains. Sunsets are spectacular. Retrace your steps to the interpretive center.

Continue hiking south, now, along the sandy beaches of Bowman Bay. Pass the boat launch and pier. A short steep climb of about 50 feet slows your momentum-a necessary detour around a rocky impasse. As the trail drops back to sea level, an unsigned trail takes off left for Pass Lake. Continue right, soon coming to another junction. The trail left heads 0.5 mile along Lottie Bay before climbing and looping around Lottie Point, providing outstanding views of the narrow channel separating Fildalgo from Whidbey Island: Deception Pass.

Return to the junction and head left via a tombolo (a spit connecting an island or offshore rock with the mainland, created by wave-carried sedimentation) to Lighthouse Point. Enter an old-growth Douglas-fir forest, and in about 0.25 mile come to an unsigned junction, the beginning and end of a 1-mile loop.

Head left to grassy bluffs that offer stunning views of Deception Pass. Carry on, climbing above a rocky cleft. Along the loop, several side trails lead to jaw-dropping viewpoints out to lonely Deception Island and a vast waterway. Back into thick timber, the trail descends, closing the loop. Return to your vehicle or continue exploring the park. Be sure to thank the CCC.
Driving Directions:

From Burlington (exit 230 on I-5), head west on State Route 20 for about 12 miles to the junction with the SR 20 spur (which continues to Anacortes). Turn left on SR 20 (signed for Oak Harbor) and continue for 5 miles, turning right onto Rosario Road just after passing Pass Lake. Proceed 100 yards, then turn left (signed for Bowman Bay), following this park road 0.4 mile to day-use parking at the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center (if this lot is full, park at the nearby boat launch lot). Water and restrooms available.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 45 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Deception Pass Headlands - Rosario Head - Lighthouse Point — Apr 04, 2014 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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We hiked the loop to Lighthouse Point and then walked along Lottie Bay to walk the loop around Lotti...
We hiked the loop to Lighthouse Point and then walked along Lottie Bay to walk the loop around Lottie Point. We saw several people hiking to Lighthouse Point but only one other person and his dog on the Lottie Point section. From Lighthouse Point we saw a pair of harlequin ducks, kingfishers, a seal and 6 kayakers. Many calypso orchids were seen in the wooded sections of the trails. Camas buds, yellow desert parsley, one avalanche lily, prairie stars. small-flowered blue-eyed Mary, kinnickinnick and red flowering currant were also seen.

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Goose Rock, Deception Pass Headlands - Rosario Head - Lighthouse Point — Apr 02, 2014 — geezerhiker
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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There are feeble signs of spring at Deception Pass. I hiked Goose Rock and Lighthouse point on this...
There are feeble signs of spring at Deception Pass. I hiked Goose Rock and Lighthouse point on this partly-sunny morning.

I did not meet any hikers on Goose Rock, but there were two fishermen and six hikers on the Lighthouse Point trail.

All trails are in very good condition.

P. S. It's good to be hiking in Washington again.

(See pictures below)
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Deception Pass Headlands - Rosario Head - Lighthouse Point — Mar 22, 2014 — Cheetarzan
Day hike
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Early start, few folks and a brisk wind. Trails in great condition. And great birding....
Early start, few folks and a brisk wind.
Trails in great condition.
And great birding.
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Deception Pass Headlands - Rosario Head - Lighthouse Point — Jan 16, 2014 — OhioHiker85
Day hike
Issues: Overgrown
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Started off hiking before dawn in order to get some great photos of the sun coming up. It was very q...
Started off hiking before dawn in order to get some great photos of the sun coming up. It was very quiet out, no one else on the trails, in fact there was no one in the park the entire morning. The trail around Rosario Beach and out towards Lighthouse Point was well traveled, a little mud but very manageable. When I came around Bowman Bay from Lighthouse Point the trail appeared to end but I tried to follow what little path I could see. Bad idea, it was so overgrown and muddy that I ended up sliding down the steep hill to the edge of Bowman Bay. I advise turning around and following the same path back once you reach Bowman Bay. It's a beautiful hike so why not relive it again.
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Deception Pass Headlands - Rosario Head - Lighthouse Point — Jan 09, 2014 — thebrink
Day hike
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This is a short hike with a lot of interesting scenes along the way. You get the forest and beach ex...
This is a short hike with a lot of interesting scenes along the way. You get the forest and beach experience along with marshes, ponds and the critters that make it their home. We were looking for a hike to do before the 90% chance of forecasted rain set in for the day. It worked out well as just as we were approaching the trailhead after the hike it began that 90%.

We started at the Deception Pass Bowmen Bay parking lot and after about a hundred yards we were going up the steep but very short route over a rock headland. We then dropped down to the narrow spit of land that separates Bowman Bay and Lottie Bay. After crossing that we headed up the headland that juts out into the entrance of the pass. This is a great winter trail that takes you through cedar, Douglas Fir, Madronas and lichen covered. There are several places along the trail where you can look down on narrow rock walled beaches between high rock headlands.

The trail is in excellent condition. This time of year there are few people on the trail and I imagine the area is usually snow free in the winter. Because of the rain we cut our hike short, but there are several connector trails to Rosario Beach, Bowen Hill and Lighthouse Point.
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Rosario Head Kim Brown.jpg
Rosario Head trail. Photo by Kim Brown.
WTA worked here!
2012
Location
Puget Sound and Islands -- North Sound
Deception Pass State Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain 350 ft
Highest Point 110 ft
Features
Coast
Old growth
Mountain views
User info
Good for kids
Discover Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Deception Pass/Anacortes Community Forest Lands No. 41S

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerDeception Pass Headlands - Rosario Head - Lighthouse Point
48.4168833333 -122.651166667
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  • Trail Work 2012
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