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Deception Pass State Park - Headlands / Rosario Head / Lighthouse Point

Puget Sound and Islands


Puget Sound and Islands -- Bellingham Area
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5.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 350 ft.
Highest Point: 110 ft.


4.16 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2020

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

On your next trip to Deception Pass State Park, don’t cross over the Deception Pass bridge. Instead, take the road down to Bowman Bay for some fine hiking along the rugged cliffs. Great views of the bridge over Deception and Canoe Pass, calm Lottie Bay, a woodland walk through hemlock, fir and Pacific Madrone, plus the legend of the Maiden of Deception Pass are what await you here.

Begin your journey by walking out on the fishing pier to see what people are catching and snap a few pictures of the seagulls hanging around hoping for a handout. Unless you have a line in the water, walk back and head south along the shore of Bowman Bay to the trail to Lottie and Lighthouse Point. Pick up the trail as it crosses over a marshy area and up a small steep rocky cliff. Drop down to sea level and come to a signed intersection. Left takes you up to Highway 20 and Pass Lake, but you'll hang a right and shortly come to another intersection.

Head left here and follow the trail around Lottie Point. Take this trail for views of Deception and Canoe Pass and the impressive bridge above. Admire also the beautiful red peeling bark and twisted trunks of the Pacific Madrone trees along the cliffs. This striking native broadleaf evergreen has clusters of tiny white flowers in the spring and showy orangey red berries in the fall. It prefers a sunny dry and rocky site and grows along the rugged coastal cliffs of Puget Sound. Once you have done this short half-mile loop, meet the trail to Lighthouse Point at the intersection again.

The trail to Lighthouse Point crosses a very narrow sliver of grassy beach. Here you may want to dig out your binoculars and check out whatever ducks may be on the calm waters of Lottie Bay. The trail forks by a large hollowed-out, burned tree. Take the left fork for a nice mile-long loop around the point. Surprisingly, for such as small area, there are some nice old Douglas firs here. Walk through the woods a short way and come to more views of the bridge and across to Whidbey Island and North Beach. At one point you will be able to drop down to the beach and climb up a large grassy rock outcropping. Look for the geological survey marker, marking it as Lighthouse Point, elevation just about 22 feet.

Feel winded? Pull out those binoculars and watch for harbor seals that like to swim offshore. When you've got your breath back, continue on to Vista Point. Here the trail fades off into a bunch of little paths through the salal and Oregon grape, go back and catch the obvious trail for the loop, or explore a little and head back to the main trail when ready.

Once back at the fishing pier, continue past the parking lot, through the picnic area and past the CCC Interpretive center and you will find the trail to your last destination, Rosario Beach. Start off with a short, steep little climb, then level off as you head above the bay. There are plenty of paths leading to scenic overlooks. Notice Gull Rocks just offshore; they should be named Cormorant Corners, since there seem to be more cormorants than seagulls!

Reach Rosario Beach picnic area in a half-mile. If you hike this in winter, no that the park here will be officially closed, and the restrooms will be locked. There are picnic tables along the narrow stretch of land between the parking lot and Rosario Head. Here you will find a large pole carving of Kwuh-kwal-uhl-wut, the Maiden of Deception Pass. A legend of the Coast Salish people, take the time to read her story on plaques which circle the pole, along with some facts about the Native people that called this place home.

Take the loop trail around Rosario Head, but be careful of the steep drop off along the cliffs. Keep children and dogs away from the edges. Here there are more expansive views out across the Sound to the Olympics. If you are camping nearby, remember this place for some sunset photography or a little romantic picnic. Once you have completed the circle, head back the way you came with a full pack of scenery.

WTA Pro Tip: To extend your hike, hike to Pass Lake, then walk along the highway and across the bridge for hikes up Goose Rock or down to the North Beach.


Deception Pass State Park - Headlands / Rosario Head / Lighthouse Point

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.4169, -122.6512 Open map in new window


Puget Sound and Islands -- Bellingham Area

Washington State Parks

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Deception Pass Park Foundation Official Park Map:

Buy the Green Trails Deception Pass/Anacortes Community Forest Lands 41S map

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

From I-5 in Mount Vernon, take exit 230 for Hwy 20, signed Burlington/Anacortes. If you are northbound, stay in the left lane and turn left onto Hwy 20 west. Continue on Hwy 20 for 11.4 miles, then turn left at the intersection with spur 20 to Anacortes; your turn will be signed Whidbey Island/Deception Pass. In 5 miles, turn right onto Rosario Road, at the south end of Pass Lake. Take an immediate left onto Bowman Bay Road and follow it downhill to the park. This is part of Deception Pass State Park, so there are plenty of facilities, including parking, water, restrooms, a picnic area and campground.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

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Deception Pass State Park - Headlands / Rosario Head / Lighthouse Point

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