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Snohomish Uncovered: Where to Find the Best Outdoor Adventures

Most Washington State visitors and residents are well aware of the region’s breathtaking natural beauty. That’s often the main motivation for any trip or relocation to the area. 

However, there is so much more to enjoy beyond the big names like Mount Rainier, the coastline, and the Olympics. Just a few miles north of Seattle city limits, Snohomish County is home to numerous recreation areas that make for perfect day or weekend trips. Here’s where to enjoy nature in Snohomish County from a local!

Deception Pass State Park

Just under an hour and a half drive from Seattle is Deception Pass State Park, a beautiful place to hike, camp, or just enjoy being by the water. The park is split into two parts by the iconic Deception Pass State Bridge. 

You can walk or drive across to either side and enjoy an amazing vantage point of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (the bane of boat drivers on foggy days) and 5-plus miles of hiking paths. 

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Photo of Deception Pass in Washington state with beautiful blue water and majestic forests
Deception Pass

Follow the jagged cliffside along the water for views of Skagit Bay, Whidbey Island, and Fidalgo Island. On a sunny day, the water changes into electric shades of blue that rival the Caribbean, and the Olympics rise in the distance. There are numerous campsites for both tents and trailers, and it’s a good idea to reserve online to ensure a spot. 

Additionally, there is a boat launch and docks for those water inclined. If you plan to fish or crab, make sure you’ve purchased a license through the Department of Fish and Wildlife ahead of time.

Whidbey Island 

Take a 20-minute ferry ride from Mukilteo on the mainland and arrive in a whole new world! Whidbey Island is long, 60 miles in length, and has so much to offer, whether you’re visiting for a day or a week! 

You’ll arrive in either Clinton (if taking the Mukilteo ferry), Coupeville (if taking the passenger ferry from Port Townsend), or Deception Pass/Oak Harbor if driving on via the Deception Pass Bridge. 

Photo of the sandy shoreline of Whidbey Island with a forest in the distance and tidepools up close
View of the shoreline near the Coupeville Wharf on Whidbey Island

From any of the above entry points, you’re never far from a lovely walk, beach, or scenic drive. Ebey’s Landing is easily one of the most popular options on the island for amazing coastal views. Follow the trail from the parking lot to the fields above the beach. 

Ebey’s Landing is a part of Ebey’s National Historical Reserve, which also houses Bluff and Kettle Trails as well as campgrounds. 

Not far away lies Fort Casey, the former defense center of Puget Sound back in World War I and II. Today, you can wander through history and explore abandoned forts and cannons along the water. There is also camping space available. 

Near Oak Harbor, Duagalla State Park is a lovely forest with plenty of trails. If you’re bringing four-legged friends, Double Bluff Beach and Greenbank Farm Trails are both great options for dog-friendly paths. 

Camano Island 

A convenient drive-on island to mainland Washington and a local favorite among Snohomish County residents. Follow State Route 532 from Stanwood, and in a few minutes, you’ll be on Camano Island. 

The small spit of land is home to Cama Beach Historical Park and Camano Island State Park, both with numerous trails, beach access, and campgrounds. There are also numerous private access trails and oceanfronts, should you want to stay longer than a day. 

You can continue the fun by driving to Deception Pass after and then onto Whidbey Island for a full day or more adventure!

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest 

Mount Baker’s snowy peak can be seen from numerous vantage points across Snohomish County. And while the mountain is a great place for skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking, the national forest of the same name just southeast of Baker has plenty of recreation opportunities. Hike Washington favorites such as Baker and Bagley Lakes, Lake Ann, and Artist Point. 

A photo of the Glacier entrance at Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Don’t miss Heybrook Lookout, where the snow clears earlier than many other trails in the area, where views of other peaks and waterfalls are unmatched. If you’re water-inclined, fishing on the Nooksack River is a must, as is cooling off in it on a summer day.

If you have time to spare, check out one of the many campgrounds — although note many are first-come-first-serve, so arrive early! Then, you can continue your Washington adventure along the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway. 

Mount Pilchuck State Park

This area is best known for the short, but intense route to one of the most famous views in the state. However, there’s so much more to the park than the 5.5-mile (round-trip) hike with 2,300 feet of elevation gain that ends with panoramic views of both Mount Baker and Mount Rainier as well as the Olympics. 

The historic fire lookout initially constructed in the early 1920s is now a landmark featured in every hiker’s photo album who summits the peak.

A photo of rocky shoreline in Washington state with a sunset in the background

Heather Lake is a less demanding and shorter option, should Pilchuck sound a bit too advanced for you. It’s located along the same road, just a bit before the Pilchuck trailhead. There’s also the lovely Lake 22 in the area and plenty of campgrounds.  

Snohomish County offers an unparalleled outdoor experience that rivals even the most renowned natural attractions in Washington State. From the majestic Deception Pass State Park to the serene beauty of Whidbey Island and the rugged landscapes of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, this area is a treasure trove for nature lovers. Whether you’re seeking thrilling hikes, peaceful walks, or simply a place to relax by the water, Snohomish County has something for everyone. 

Remember, exploring these natural wonders not only rejuvenates the soul but also deepens our appreciation for the environment. We’d love to hear about your adventures or any hidden gems you’ve discovered in Snohomish County. Share your experiences and tips in the comments below and help others find their own path to outdoor enjoyment in this beautiful region.

Sydney Baker

Sydney is a freelance writer from Seattle who previously worked in immigration and international education at higher education institutions. She has lived in Sydney, Montreal, and Luxembourg, traveled solo across four continents, speaks French, and a little Spanish, and is always on the lookout for her next adventure. When she isn’t sipping coffee you can find her hiking in the mountains or near the water. She writes about travel, lifestyle, and language all over the internet.


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