Deception Pass State Park spreads north and south of the high bridge that spans the pass — a total of more than 2,000 acres and 14 miles of dramatic shoreline.
It’s the most heavily used state park in Puget Sound, with camping and picnic areas, an extensive trail system, and lakes and beaches. You can fish in saltwater or cast your line into freshwater lakes; explore rocky tidepools or grassy sand dunes; watch boats navigate the swirling, narrow pass; or gaze across the vastness of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
So close to the rush of current and traffic in Deception Pass, Cornet Bay can feel like a refuge of quiet water, despite the summer crowds. The navigable portion is deceptively small — almost a third of the bay dries at low tide — but the state park facilities make creative use of the deep water, and there’s room for anchoring.
The park facilities at Cornet Bay are open year-round.
Moorings and Anchorage
The state park floats are west of the three launching ramps. Two detached floats, each about 100 feet long, are set parallel to the main float and ramp. There’s a fee for these floats year-round; pay at the head of the ramp. Fresh water spigots are on shore.
Deception Pass Marina, west of the state park floats, occasional has overnight visitor moorage. Call ahead (360.675.5411).
The county float west of the Cornet Bay Marina has no overnight moorage. This float goes dry at low tide.
The anchoring basin is northeast of the state park floats, between Ben Ure Island and Whidbey Island. Take time to set your hook well, as westerlies funnel from the strait over Whidbey and currents can be strong.
The best shore access is at the marina or at the state park float. The west end of Cornet Bay dries at low ride and is not recommended. Ben Ure Island tidelands are private.
For the Boat and Crew
The fuel dock (gas and diesel) is at Deception Pass Marina, beyond the boathouses west of the state park floats. The marina maintains a dredged channel, with depth at the fuel dock float is 6 feet at a zero tide. Enter between the marked pilings, then turn to port and tie up in front of the marina store and office. Winter hours are 9 am-3pm; in summer the fuel dock opens at 7 am and closes around dusk.
Bait, picnic items, propane and a few marine supplies are available at the marina store. Across the street is Marine Services & Assist, which has a store selling new and used boating gear and a boatyard that provides haul-outs of up to 50 feet and a wide range of boat services.
Restrooms with showers are at the head of the state park float.
Things to Do
This south side of Deception Pass State Park has more variety than you can experience in a weekend. Walk east to Hoypus Point, where concrete ruins are all that remain of the old Fidalgo Island ferry dock, or pick up the trail that circles Hoypus Hill – about a four-mile round trip.
West along the road, at the head of Cornet Bay, is an Environmental Learning Center (ELC), which the park rents out for group activities. A trail that skirts the west edge of the ELC leads to the summit of Goose Rock, around the perimeter to the bridge, and across the highway to more trails and to Cranberry Lake, a total distance of almost three miles each way.
Cranberry Lake has a fishing dock, swimming beach and bathhouse. A large camping area — more than 250 sites — is north of the lake. West on the beach is a seasonal concession stand and another trail, this one through sand dunes and marsh.
The Haida Bear monument at West Point is a reminder of the northern clans who frequently raided the local Samish Indians.
The attractions of Deception Pass State Park north of the bridge are better accessed via Bowman Bay.
The park website warns of the nearby Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island. Don’t be surprised to hear screaming jets, known locally as “The Sound of Freedom.”