Exploring Deception Pass

Adrian Stouffer, a Pennsylvania native, recently took a family trip to Washington on a whim, and this is one of the many spots she explored along the way. After visiting Pike Place Market for the first time, Adrian and her family continued their journey in Washington. Join us as we explore the area of Deception Pass and Coupeville and follow along with Adrian and her family’s trip.

Deception Pass Exploring

Deception Pass

“That’s a lot of sap,” I joked as we drove north on Route 5 toward “Marathon Homebase” in Oak Harbor. The abundant pine trees overwhelmed my tree-loving heart as their statuesque beauty created a fervent barrier between the pavement and wilderness beyond.

With the combination of road construction and city traffic, it had taken more time than expected to get to our first overnight destination when finally, our exit was in sight! The exhilaration of nearing the end of our long day of travel was postponed, finding ourselves immersed in the scenic beauty of Deception Pass bridge. A break in the cloudy weather laid wake to views of pristine, sparkling water, rocky-edged shores and what appeared to be tall evergreen soldiers standing at salute by the waters edge. I made my husband, Jason, pull over a couple times amongst the construction and carefully meandered over to lookout points, taking in the awe-inspiring gorgeousness. Jason, our sons, Tyson and Dane, and my mother-in-law, Ada, stayed in the car. They were ready not to be in a vehicle anymore as we had been traveling since 4 a.m.

Exploring Deception Pass view of water

Exploring Deception Pass

Checking my itinerary, I noted that we would be visiting Deception Pass State Park after Jason’s marathon in two days. Within twenty minutes of passing over the bridge, we had arrived at the Best Western Plus in Oak Harbor. Although Jason was running his marathon in Coupeville, Oak Harbor was the closest location with overnight accommodations besides one very quaint, but adorable bed and breakfast in Coupeville. The next day, we planned to take a ferry to Olympic State Park, but like anything, reality is different than what’s on paper.

The following morning, we awoke early and gathered around the free breakfast buffet in the basement of the hotel. Thinking through yet another long day of travel in cars, and on ferries, to get to Olympic National Park, Jason once again suggested that we change plans and go somewhere closer. And once again, I agreed. We decided to check out Coupeville where Jason would be running his marathon the following day and Deception Pass State Park, rated one of Washington’s best state parks.

Only a short drive from our hotel, the park was a ‘can’t miss’ with beautiful views, tons of trails to peruse and some interesting educational programming. We parked near the office and grabbed a map. Across the parking lot, a young, Zen-like park educator was demonstrating how to climb a massive ponderosa pine with ropes and pulleys. The kids attending the program were struggling as they swung from the ropes like frantic mosquitoes caught in a spider web.

Goose Rock Trail Exploring Deception Pass

Goose Rock Trail

Concentrating on the park map, Ada, Jason and I decided to traverse Goose Rock Trail, a trail that would take us to Deception Pass Bridge, the bridge we had driven over the previous evening. The beginning of the trail was a picturesque, winding trail that quickly gained depth. Beautiful, mossy rocks and mountainous sequoias trimmed its entry, welcoming us to the adventure ahead. We encountered several new trees and bushes we had never seen before along our path. There were plants that resembled blueberry bushes adorned with holly-type leaves, which I found out are called Oregon grapes. And beautiful peeling trees that revealed hints of sage behind the clay brown bark called the Pacific madrone, a feature species in the coastal northwest.

Traveling up the mountain path farther, we were privy to picturesque views of Deception Pass, a strait that separates Fidalgo and Whidbey islands. Turning the corner, our mouths gaped at the structural beauty of Deception Pass Bridge’s underbelly. The beams framed the rocky cliffs they were straddling. Looking below the wide medal beams, large boats were motoring back and forth along the strait.

Choosing to hike to the top of the mountain instead of walk across the bridge, we continued up the trail. It became steep in places as the density of the forest also became thicker. Finally, we reached the summit. There, we stopped for a snack, taking the panoramic views of the Puget Sound and Strawberry Island, a small piece of land isolated by water in Deception Pass. The Naval Air Station nearby provided aerial entertainment as the fighter jets rocketed through the air.

View of Island from Exploring Deception Pass
Macs Cove Beach Exploring Deception Pass

Macs Cove

After inspecting some pretty plants growing in the rock crevices, taking in the views, and snapping many pictures, we headed back down the mountain trail to the rocky shore of Macs Cove. The water looked so clear and crisp that I decided to take off my sneakers and wade in. Gingerly walking over the stones, I dipped my toes into the lapping water. It was bone-numbing cold despite it being the end of summer! Looking down the shoreline, you could see thousands of ornate pieces of driftwood hugging the coast. As a lover of all things distressed, I truly appreciated this sight. We took a few moments for the kids to do their best gymnastic routines on the copious driftwood climbnasiums and conned a few strangers into taking our family photos.

As our decadent hotel basement breakfast buffet was alas wearing off, we decided to head to the car and go get some grub. Earlier, the front desk clerk at the Best Western recommended Jumbo Burrito. Jason, a devoted enthusiast of Mexican cuisine, could not pass on the opportunity.


Time for Lunch

Arriving at Jumbo Burrito, we were surprised by its authenticity. Judging by the name, I was expecting the giant cartoon chili peppers and cheesy Americanized Mexican décor to be everywhere, but the interior was more like a 1950s American diner. Described on Google as a ‘low-key, bright outpost serving classic Mexican standards…,’ I was pleased by their ‘fast food’ menu. They offered everything from nachos and tacos to entrees (and of course burritos!). We panicked to make up our minds as the line was moving quickly. The kids ordered a quesadilla to split, Ada ordered the nachos and Jason and I each ordered a jumbo burrito – one chicken, one pork.

Upon receiving our food, I was happy to have such fresh ingredients on my plate after a few days of many fried and processed foods. The burritos were so big that neither Jason nor I could finish them, which has never happened before to either of us. We love to eat.

Waddling out of Jumbo Burrito, we decided to scope out the town of Coupeville prior to checking in for Jason’s marathon at the local elementary school.


Coupeville, Washington

Arriving in Coupeville, we parked on a side street by a bakery and headed downhill toward the water that we later learned was Cape Town Bay. The street paralleling the bay hosted a variety of shops including antique shops, wine tasting shops, ice cream shops, jewelry shops even a German candy shop – A Touch of Dutch. At the end of the row of shops, we encountered a pier that stretched out into the bay. The pier was attached to a very attractive red wooden building known as a ‘wharf.’ It piqued our curiosity, so we decided to take a look. The kids were particularly excited to use the median separating the walking paths as a balance beam.


 To our disappointment, there wasn’t much to peruse in the wharf other than a charming coffee shop and cluttered gift shop. However, for the boaters in the area, the wharf is a hub for getting gas, mooring boats, pumping out and even picking up catered meals. There was also a lot of history to read during our quick stop there. I learned that Coupeville claims a piece of the historical landscape in the area. Apparently, Coupeville is one of the oldest towns in Washington and is part of the historic district within the Federal Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. This means that the land is preserved throughout the countryside just like it was when it was discovered and settled in the 1850s. Who knew we were staring at more than just fields…


Whidbey Island Lavender

Walking up the hill from the wharf, I spotted a lavender shop called, “Lavender Wind,” and it prompted my memory of itinerary destination #5 – Coupeville Lavender Wind Farm. Convincing Jason to briefly “check it out” after he registered in town for his marathon, we started walking back to our car.

After a few minutes of travel, we were pulling into the illustrious Coupeville Elementary School parking lot to register for the marathon.  There was only a handful of vehicles parked outside.  Jason and I looked at each other and shrugged.  We knew this was a small marathon with only about 1,500 runners in attendance each year, but we soon found out it was much smaller than what we had read.  Jason would be running with approximately 25 other marathon runners and proceeds would benefit the Coupeville High School’s Prom!  This made us laugh as we obviously did not read the details very well, but nonetheless, we were happy to support prom!

lavender field

Lavender Wind Farm

With all of Jason’s running information in hand, we headed out to the Lavender Wind Farm that was only about five minutes away. Driving up to the farm, we saw a small outbuilding that looked like it could be a shop. Entering the building, it resembled a tiny farm stand, but with all things lavender. There were the expected dried bunches of lavender hanging from the rafters, the obligatory handmade soaps and oils, assorted teas, but the most interesting to me was the lavender ice cream. Since the Jumbo Burrito had hit us hard, we passed on the intriguing sweet treat. Paying our admission, Dane, Tyson and I headed toward the lavender fields while Ada and Jason hung back.


Peeking around a tree line, we found the expansive lavender fields. Although later in the season, there were rows upon rows of blooming lavender in different colors and species. Bees were buzzing happily all around us as they dive bombed the intricate flowers that whirled around stems of each delicate plant. I thought I could get a great shot of the kids perched in the flowers. We walked down several rows and could see the Puget Sound in the distance. It was hot, but the kids squatted among the flowers for a few photos. Sweat was streaming down their faces as they squinted into the sun, patiently awaiting my signal. After several attempts at a cute picture that never materialized, I set them free to run up and down the rows of floral.


Pollen and bees flew everywhere in the wake of those two little speed demons. Dane yelled to me, “Look, a furry bee, Mommy!” I hurried along to see this extraordinary manifestation. It was a golden bumble bee (I think)! It resembled a cute little teddy bear and I just wanted to snuggle it. Looking beyond the cute, snuggly bee, we found a wooden sign posted ins the field that spelled out “LOVE.” After yet more unsuccessful attempts at taking a cute photo, we decided to head out. On our way to back to Jason and Ada, we came across a meditative labyrinth. It was a combination of swirling lavender, grass and rocks that made up a maze. There was only one way to the center despite several different pathways. It entertained Tyson and Dane for a healthy 20 minutes. Finally, I gathered them up and we circled back to the rest of our family. After all, Jason had to get some rest for his big “Race the Reserve” marathon tomorrow and we had to find some lightweight running shorts as he had forgotten his. Incidentally, we never did eat dinner. The jumbo-ness of our burritos got us good.

Adrian Stouffer

Have kids. Will travel. Adrian is a writer, mother and marketing consultant who travels often with her family. Native to and currently residing in Pennsylvania, Adrian and her family recently took a trip to Washington state selected by chance circumstances. The articles she writes are about her family's experiences.

1 Comment

  1. […] famous Deception Pass Bridge and State Park is less than a half an hour’s drive away. The views from the bridge are amazing, but there […]

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