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Into the woods
With over 38 miles of easily hiked trails and some of the most incredible views available in Washington, its no surprise that Deception Pass State Park is typically brimming with hikers, walkers and even a few tourists who barely know how to walk on a surface that is not paved.
However, this doesnt mean Washingtons most popular state park lacks true getaway trails. In fact, it has some of the best, down in a little-known spot called Hoypus Point.
Tucked into an obscure corner of the 4,134-acre park, down on Cornet Bay north of Oak Harbor, the Hoypus Point Loop trail winds through ancient forest far away from crowds of tourist. On a quiet week day, this hard-to-find trail can be had all to oneself for hours.
Getting there: From Highway 20, turn east on Cornet Bay Road. Follow the road for about 2 miles until you reach a large, brown parks sign that announces you have reached Hoypus Point. From this point on, drive slowly on a single-lane paved road, looking to the right for a small, white metal gate. This is the trail head. Park at the trail head, but dont forget to buy a parking permit back at the Hoypus Point sign.
The trail: Though not heavily travelled, the 3.5-mile Hoypus Point Loop is a smooth trail that can be walked at most points in even tennis shoes. With a pine-needle surface in most points, it is a hushed trail, winding quietly through old and second-growth timber.
With just 100 feet of elevation change along the route, the loop does not require mountain goat hiking abilities. But some preparation is a good idea. The trail narrows along its northeast portion as giant nettle plants hang across the path. For this, its a good idea to wear nettle-proof pants and gloves, and to bring along a tube of itch cream.
The trail doesnt offer much in the way of views, save close up looks at some of the oldest trees on Whidbey Island. But it is a great way to spend up to three hours on an active afternoon away from the bustle of the rest of Deception Pass State Park. Take a backpack, a water bottle, snacks and a camera.
For those who want to actually know where theyre going while on the trail, take a pencil and some graph paper to the parks main parking area near Deception Pass Bridge. This is the only place where park personnel have seen fit to post a trail map. Copies of the map are not available, so hikers need to sketch their own.
Going farther: The Hoypus Point Loop connects with another 4 miles of trails to the south, called Hoypus Hill. Unlike the northern loop, this portion of the trail is open to bicyclists and horses as well as hikers. It offers wide trails and a logging road on near-flat terrain. It, too, sees little traffic during much of the year.