|Olympic Mountains and Whidbey Island shoreline from Goose Rock|
Access: Paved road to trailhead, Washington State Parks Discover Pass required
Goose Rock is the highest point on Washington State's Whidbey Island, making it a good location to survey the mountains and waterways in and around the Salish Sea. This hike visits the summit of Goose Rock in a loop around Deception Pass State Park. Goose Rock is a particularly good hike in the winter and spring months, as it's usually snow-free when the higher peaks of the Cascades and Olympics are snowbound. I combined this hike with a visit to the nearby Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, a unique floral display in the farms outside Mount Vernon each April.
I hiked this trail with my mom during one of her April visits to Seattle. We set out from Seattle early in the morning to beat the crowds at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, arriving at the opening hours of one of the two main tulip display gardens in the Skagit Valley near Mount Vernon. We spent the early part of the day exploring the Skagit Valley, dropping by La Conner for brunch after checking out the tulips. If you're heading over to the Goose Rock Trailhead at Deception Pass directly from Seattle, the most straightforward way is to follow I-5 north to exit 230 in Burlington, following Highway 20 west across the Swinomish Channel onto Fidalgo Island. At the branch point for Highway 20 just south of Anacortes, we took the left turn to follow Highway 20 towards Whidbey Island, then continued on that route until crossing the Deception Pass bridge. Soon after crossing the bridge, we took a turn on the right to enter Deception Pass State Park; once in the park, we made another right turn and followed the road to the parking lot at its end.
|Tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival|
The trailhead is just uphill from Macs Cove. Two paths led out from the parking lot, the left branch heading down to the water and the right branch making its way uphill instead. We followed the trail on the right out of the parking lot. This trail quickly began gaining elevation as it climbed up and around the north side of a hill, with good views of Deception Pass and nearby islands just minutes from the parking area.
|Deception Pass and Lighthouse Point|
Soon after we passed under the bridge, we arrived at a junction for two trails, both of which eventually to the Goose Rock summit. We took the trail to the left, opting to take the longer route to the highest point on Whidbey Island.
For the next half mile, the trail traversed east along the forested slopes of Goose Rock, generally staying high above the waters of Deception Pass below. As the trail swung south at the eastern edge of the island, it also neared the shoreline, staying just above a rocky beach with views of the waters of Deception Pass. Here, we followed a spur trail down to the beach itself for nice views of Mount Baker.
|Mount Baker from beach near trail|
|Ben Ure Island|
|Spring wildflowers bloom near the trail|
|Madrona near the trail at Cornet Bay|
Two miles from the trailhead, we arrived at the top of Goose Rock. The summit was quite wide, with two rocky viewpoints spaced over a hundred meters apart. The first of these viewpoints had okay views of Cascade peaks to the east, including the always prominent Three Fingers.
The second, western rock outcrop had much better views. From here, we could look south over the waters of Cranberry Lake to the rolling green farmland of northern Whidbey Island and the planes taking off and landing at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The blue waters of the Salish Sea separated Whidbey Island form the Olympic Peninsula; the Olympic Mountains formed a wall on the horizon, with prominent peaks in the northeastern part of the range such as Mount Constance and Mount Townsend vaguely identifiable from this distance.
|View south from Goose Rock|
|San Juan Islands from Goose Rock|
|Deception Pass from Macs Cove|
|Sunlight on the water at Macs Cove|