Well, if you’ve been following the news at all, or you’ve seen my posts on instagram, you’ve likely seen that our prayers were answered, and we finally got a healthy bit of rain at the end of last week and this weekend, effectively clearing the air. After about a week of being trapped indoors by horrible AQIs each day, the smoke dissipated this weekend, and we knew it was the perfect time – and reason – to get outside and explore again. We have a lot of things on our fall bucket list, but we have even more on our actual JBLM bucket list. One of those was visiting the Whidbey Island area and exploring Deception Pass State Park. Since the weather is slowly cooling down, we’ve been (not so) secretly hoping that less people would be getting outside, so figured it was a good time to head far North of Seattle and explore the coastal areas up there.
We made a plan to hike Lighthouse Point and Lottie Loop Trail near Anacortes, Washington, which is hailed as being good for all skill levels. Unlike a lot of our hikes in the Rainier area, dogs are allowed in Deception Pass State Park, so we knew we wanted a family-friendly and dog-friendly trail. This was just the ticket, and it offered the perfect blend of gradual elevation gain (and not much of one), as well as stunning coastal views, and little beach inlets for picnic lunches.
As a family, we were kind of off our game to start. Not exploring last week, then driving more than two hours to reach Anacortes definitely took its toll on us, and I’ll admit we were all kind of cranky getting started. The weather was perfect though, offering those moody skies that Washington’s fall season is known for. Intermittent showers peppered us on the way there, but the clouds gradually cleared and made for some incredible sun and views all around us. Since Mieke had been cooped in the car seat for so long, we let her start on the trail, and she was more than happy about it – especially when she found the blackberry bushes by the trailhead. That girl is 99% berry, so she treated herself before we loaded her into the Deuter and headed on our way.
The trail starts off pretty gradually along the shore where the boats, kayaks, and paddle boards launch, and we trailed along the side of the beach before we climbed a little bit. It’s deceptive because the initial steep incline leads you to believe you’re going to climb for a long time. It’s barely 400 yards before the trail dips down again, leading you to the other side of the beach to a more gradual climb to Lighthouse Point. Now, let me caveat this whole hike for those hoping for lighthouse views. The name is misleading. There is no lighthouse. If anything, it’s more of a beacon light that you see once you reach the second highest point of this hike.
This trail was pretty tricky in terms of directions. You’ll find you have very little service in Deception Pass State Park, as well as the Lighthouse Point and Lottie Loop Trail in particular. We knew it was a loop, and the whole loop is around 2.5 miles, but the trail branches off in several different directions, and none of them are particularly well-marked. About a mile in, however, you get to an overlook with epic sea and bridge views and, to the side, there is a small inlet beach below. We climbed to the other side, then we made our way down to the beach for a picnic lunch before deciding if we wanted to chance the trail without knowing exactly where it was leading. We decided to play it safe and did a down-and-back hike instead after spending some time on the beach.
There are actually a good handful of hikes in Deception Pass State Park, so be sure to scour AllTrails to see which suits your needs. While this was a beautiful hike, we definitely weren’t prepared, as I couldn’t get the map to load properly, and the directions at the trailhead left something to be desired. That said, there’s more than just hiking, and you can actually rent kayaks, paddle boards, and more. Honestly, it’s a little underrated gem that I think families will love! If you plan to try this hike, here’s what you should know:
Trail Length: Lighthouse Point and Lottie Loop Trail is around 2.4 miles roundtrip. It’s a tricky one though, and while it offers beautiful views, you can also easily get lost on the wrong part of the trail.
Level of Difficulty: This one is easy. There’s a little bit of a steep incline to start, but everything else is gradual. Be aware you’ll get to some veritable cliff edges, so if you have young children, just make sure they don’t get too close to the edge.
Cost: You need your Discover Pass to park in Deception Pass State Park, or you can pay $10 at the trailhead.
Dog-Friendly: Yes! But, be aware they need to be on leash, and they do enforce the $99 fine if you’re caught without your dog on leash.
Tips: Bring a swimsuit because the water is gorgeous! Yes, it’s cold, but on a hot day, it’s so appealing! I also recommend printing or screenshotting the trail map before you go. There is very little service in the general area around the bridge and on the trails.
Tell me – did you do anything fun this weekend?