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Sharpe Park - Montgomery-Duban Headlands

The Montgomery-Duban headlands offer a great way to explore Sharpe Park to the extreme western edge, via a primitive, rocky path.

Starting out on a wide, well-graded trail, hikers can see firsthand the work of WTA trail crews in Sharpe Park. After passing a grassy picnic area, the trail becomes a raised gravelled path -- a turnpike installed by WTA trail crews. This leads to a quiet beaver pond, where kids will love looking for birds and other wildlife.

Continue on until you come to a trail junction, signed for Sares Head to the left and Montgomery-Duban Headlands to the right. In fact, either trail will get you to the headlands.

The trail to the right offers a loop via the Upper Trail and the Bluff Trail down to Montgomery-Duban Headlands. From there, the Bluff Shortcut Trail returns you to this point. Veering left, you will come upon another fork almost immediately. At this fork, taking the right-hand trail will put you on the Lower Trail to Sares Head, but a junction with the Connector Trail makes it easy to head over to the Montgomery-Duban Headlands.

Either way, the trail is rife with life. Lichens, moss, vibrantly red madronas, make for beautifully contrasting eye candy, while nuthatches and kinglets hop and chirp in trees around you. Puget Sound peeks through the greenery, and as you descend to the headlands, you'll see bull kelp in waters below. The final stretch of the Bluff Trail is steep and rocky, in wet weather it can be slippery, so watch your footing out here.

Bald eagles roost in the snags around the island, so keep an eye out for them. While the view is impressive from the headlands, the grassy carpet atop the rocky outcrop is only about ten feet wide, and the dropoff is steep, so be careful when you're taking pictures, as you'll certainly want to do on a clear day.

When you're ready to go, return the way you came, or make it a loop; the trails all deliver you back to that first junction, where you can pass the beaver pond again and head back to your car.
Driving Directions:

From Interstate 5 at Burlington, take Exit 230 and head west on Highway 20. After 12 miles, cross the bridge to Fidalgo Island, and in a few more miles, turn left at Sharpe's Corner to follow Highway 20 south toward Whidbey Island. After driving by Pass Lake, turn right on Rosario Road, and the park is on the left in 1.7 miles.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 16 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Sharpe Park - Montgomery-Duban Headlands, Sharpe Park - Sares Head — Mar 16, 2014 — nwroth
Day hike
Issues: Mud/Rockslide | Mudholes | Water on trail
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After a Sunday work party, a fellow volunteer and I headed out to see what we could see from Sares H...
After a Sunday work party, a fellow volunteer and I headed out to see what we could see from Sares Head, via the Montgomery-Duban Headlands -- a roundabout route.

Like so many places in the islands, the land here is muddy and rooty, but thanks to some WTA work parties (including today's) the section of trail before the first junction is somewhat improved, including a very impressive length of gravel-filled turnpike. Work crews are filling in with gravel and mineral soil, and building more structures to manage the muck. Until it dries out though, shoes with good traction and hiking poles are a wise choice.

We headed out, following the directions of another volunteer, and admiring the madronas. We headed down down down, and soon found ourselves at Duban Headlands.

The Headlands are a very quiet outcropping tucked away on the extreme western edge of the park, but the trail down to them is narrow, rooty, and rocky. Nothing unmanageable, but I definitely geared down in a couple of places. When we popped out onto a flattish section of rock carpeted with some grasses above the waters of Puget Sound (the headlands proper) we were happy to see a bald eagle high in a snag, surveying the water.

We looped around and up, climbing to the Upper Trail on the north side of the park, where we were greeted with another eagle (or possibly the same one keeping an eye on us), this one much closer. We followed the trail around and met up with a connector trail. This delivered us back to the first fork we'd encountered on our hike, and this was where we realized we'd gone to the wrong destination. A sign in front of us pointed to Sares Head, via a trail we had not yet been on.

So it was on to Sares Head. From the junction with the Connector Trail, it is only 0.20 miles to the viewpoint at Sares Head, which offers a higher vantage point than that at the Duban Headlands. Deception Pass State Park is visible here, as is the work of more WTA trail crews. A youth volunteer vacation worked on the trail a year or so ago, and the rock walls and tread are holding up nicely.

It was great to get out after a day of trail work and see the destinations that the trail we were improving led to. We saw two hiking parties while we were working, and one family during our hike. Portable maps are unfortunately not available at the trailhead, but take a look at the big one before setting off. Signage in Sharpe Park is mediocre, and at times a bit confusing, but don't let that deter you! It's a great location to get some nice views, and some good exercise -- there's plenty of elevation gain and loss in those hills.
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Sharpe Park - Montgomery-Duban Headlands, Sharpe Park - Sares Head — Mar 07, 2014 — OutdoorDan
Day hike
Issues: Mudholes | Water on trail
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My friend and I were really impressed with this park located on Fildago Island. We only laid down a...
My friend and I were really impressed with this park located on Fildago Island. We only laid down a couple miles but got a decent workout with all the going up and downhill and maneuvering over rocks and roots. We were the first car on the scene today and found just one other car in the parking lot when we returned but never saw a soul on the trail.

We made for the Sares Head Viewpoint first and were not disappointed. We found lush, mossy, forested trail the whole way through the park. Along the trail up the the viewpoint there was a section with water running right down the trail but it was easy enough to get around. Up on the hill from the viewpoint we could see Whidbey Island NAS and Deception Pass State Park to the south, Lopez Island to the west and Anacortes to the north. After admiring the view for awhile we moved along to the bluff trail and dropped down to take another break several yards above the water. Use caution on the bluff if you visit during wet weather, a slip would probably be fatal and its probably not a great place for young kids or unleashed pets anytime. That said the views here were just as good as Sares Head Viewpoint.

After another long stop we started the climb uphill along the perimeter trail. Under the trees it really felt like we were a world away. The only giveaway was the Navy planes passing overhead. This was a great place to get outside while the mountains are snowed in or flooded out from the recent rains. Check this gem out, its worth the drive.
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Sharpe Park - Sares Head, Sharpe Park - Montgomery-Duban Headlands — Jan 19, 2014 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
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We were the first to arrive at the TH and had the view from Sares Head to ourselves for 45 minutes. ...
We were the first to arrive at the TH and had the view from Sares Head to ourselves for 45 minutes. 3 people arrived as we were checking out a new section of trail which turns left from the main trail just before the final climb to the view point. We didn't go until its end as it kept losing elevation, but it appeared to end after about 1/4 mile. The trail didn't show on the map we had. From Sares Head we took the Starbucks Connector Trail to the Bluff Trail which is a steep down and then a steep up. We enjoyed 5 1/2 hours in the area. Our GPS said we gained 990 feet with all the ups and downs. There were mallards, a pair of hooded mergansers and red-winged blackbirds in the wetland area which is at the beginning of the hike. This is a very pleasant area with a variety of habitat which provides a good work out if you do all the trails as we did. Thank you to those who keep the trails in this park in excellent condition!
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Sharpe Park - Montgomery-Duban Headlands, Sharpe Park - Sares Head — Nov 19, 2013 — Muledeer
Day hike
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I was curious about this park after a work party this weekend, so I decided to check out the trails ...
I was curious about this park after a work party this weekend, so I decided to check out the trails with my husband. This is a real nice little park with more opportunities to hike than it would appear from the size. First, there are more trails than appear on the GT map. Geezerhiker had once mentioned that maps are available in Anacortes, or snap a picture at the TH. After admiring the new rock stairs, cross a little meadow with a picnic table, then head downward past a marsh.(Also admire the new gravel cribbing). The trail forks, we kept following the right hand ones. There is a little uphill, then the trail switchbacks steeply downhill toward the water. (We later figured this is the dotted lines on the GT map). You cannot access the water, but following the trail along the bluff, there are some nice viewpoints. Eventually the trail heads back up. We were in an exploring mood, so we just followed trails until we got back to the main fork. There are small signs pointing the way on most trail intersections. Once we got back up to the top, we headed for Sares Head, (the lefthand one on the way down). This is the main trail, it is easy to follow, and there is evidence of some nice trailwork here also. We were glad we saved this for 'dessert'. The views are outstanding, south toward Deception Pass, west toward the Olympics, and north toward the San Juans. There is even a nice bench to have lunch on. We also had beautiful sunny weather, even tho it was raining when we left. This is a nice quiet place to hike, and if you hike on multiple trails you can work off that extra helping of pumpkin pie.
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Sharpe Park - Montgomery-Duban Headlands — Nov 13, 2013 — MrsFishbag
Day hike
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Cloudy, but warm day. This is a great little hike for any time of year. We took a picture of the tr...
Cloudy, but warm day. This is a great little hike for any time of year. We took a picture of the trail map which came in handy. Hiked all around the outer edge of the loop including Sares Head - total just over 2 miles. Steep trail to water and back up with some slippery leaves on trail. Great views!
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DSCN1601 (2).JPG
Duban Headlands looking north. Photo by nwroth.
WTA worked here!
2013
Location
Puget Sound and Islands -- North Sound
Skagit County Parks & Recreation
Statistics
Roundtrip 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain 300 ft
Highest Point 400 ft
Features
Coast
Mountain views
Wildlife
User info
Good for kids
Dogs allowed on leash
Guidebooks & Maps
http://www.skagitcounty.net/ParksAndRecreation/Documents/misc/Parks/Trail_Map_handout2.pdf

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Red MarkerSharpe Park - Montgomery-Duban Headlands
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  • Trail Work 2013 Frontcountry
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