by MaryRose Denton

Deception Pass State Park is well known for its beautiful views from the stunning sunsets and jagged bluffs to the towering heights from its majestic bridge. But it is the activities of this vast landscape which draw local as well as international visitors including fishing, beach combing, bird watching, camping, and of course hiking. The park holds over 30 different trails inside its boundaries, each one taking you on an adventure through old growth forest or sandy beaches, but always breathtaking beauty found only here in the Pacific Northwest.

Note: A Discover Pass is required for parking at State Parks.

Deception Pass Bridge

Bowman Bay/Rosario Beach Trail

One of the more accessible hikes and a favorite of mine is the Bowman Bay/Rosario Beach Trail. This is where we headed on a beautiful spring afternoon with water bottles in our backpacks and a picnic lunch packed for our return.

Heading west, we followed Hwy 20 until just before the Deception Pass bridge where there is a road going off to the right with signs directing you down Rosario Beach Road and to the park. This park is a popular spot with camping as well as hiking and has many day use features including picnic areas and public washrooms. It is here where the Maiden of Deception Pass (Ko-kwahl-alwoot) totem pole stands holding a salmon above her head, keeping watch over the Salish sea.

With camera and binoculars in hand we begin our trek heading south on the Rosario Beach trail. The path meanders through wooded areas providing some nice shade on warmer days, up some small inclines and around Bowman Bay. This leg of our day hike is just over 1 mile.

Exploring Deception Pass on the Bowman Bay - Rosario Beach Trail.

You can stop here and hang out on the long stretch of this rocky beach which is popular with kayakers, fisherman, and couples kissing under the dock. Looking directly west from shore are two haystack rock formations, Gull and Coffin Rocks, which provide a lovely photo opportunity.

Kissing under the dock at Bowman Bay, Deception Pass State Park
Gull Rock and Coffin Rock at Bowman Bay. Deception Pass State Park.

We decided to continue walking south through the latter half of the trail which takes you to Lighthouse Point, another 2.6 miles. We headed back into wooded areas, up a small cliff and back down towards another two-sided beach area. It is here you are rewarded with spectacular views of the Deception Pass Bridge. Time for a selfie!

Deception Pass Bridge
Selfie with Richard and MaryRose

Venturing down to the sandy beach area we found ourselves in luck for there were two seals playing in the tide. Keep your binoculars handy for other sea life, both in the water and in the air. Gulls, eagles, and great blue herons are abundant along these shores. Above the small beaches is a cliff area of grassy meadow and a great place to recline and relax a little before heading back. This type of hike is perfect for all levels and dog friendly if the four-legged trekker is on leash.

View from cliff at Deception Pass State Park on the trail from Rosario Beach to Bowman Bay

Keep in mind this is a popular trail and from Rosario beach to Lighthouse Point is just over 4 miles one way. While you can stop anywhere along the trail, the breathtaking scenery capturing the wildness of the waterways is well worth the extra effort.

Once back at Rosario beach, we unpacked our picnic lunch from our car and sat ourselves at a table overlooking the sea. And with the Maiden of Deception Pass standing just beyond our shoulders, we feasted as the sun began to sink a little lower on the horizon.

To find out more about Deception Pass Park and the trails, check here.

MaryRose Denton

MaryRose Denton is a freelance writer, traveler, licensed massage therapist, yoga teacher, lifelong vegetarian, and most importantly a mother. She enjoys the mash up of these that life brings and writes about them with insight, humour, and wit. A native to the Pacific NW, MaryRose lived for a short duration in Canada before returning home to this richly beautiful area. She has traveled overseas, exploring and visiting friends in their native homes allowing herself a deeper and richer understanding of human nature. MaryRose writes the stories of the people and places she visits, hoping to expand her readers’ interest and touch their hearts. She is a current member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance. Her stories can be found at or follow her on Instagram and FB, @maryrosedenton.