Deception Pass – Wikimedia

As last weekend’s weather represented the start of Silly Season for Seattle Happiness, I thought I’d write up another carfree Saturday daytrip. Deception Pass State Park, bringing together Fidalgo and Whidbey islands, is a pretty spectacular place.  As the bridge between the islands is itself a prime attraction, Deception Pass is a premier roadtrip destination, and can get very crowded on sunny weekends.

This 12-hour, relatively easy Saturday transit loop takes you from Seattle to Whidbey Island and back via Amtrak Cascades, Island Transit #411W, Island Transit #1, Washington State Ferries, Community Transit #113, and Sound Transit #511.  It allows time for a beautiful train ride along the central Sound, a 90-minute brunch in Mt Vernon, 4 hours of walking along the beaches and bays of Deception Pass, and has you back in Seattle before a June sunset.  Variations could allow a nice hike to the top of Mt Erie or an alternate return via Port Townsend and Bainbridge (only attempt on weekdays!).

And this loop is very cheap.  Island Transit is a fare-free agency, and doing the loop counter-clockwise gives you a free ride on the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry.  Aside from your Amtrak fare ($13-$20), with an ORCA card this trip allows you to ride 5 buses from 3 agencies for only $3.50!

16 Replies to “Transit Hikes: Whidbey Island Loop”

  1. I’ve done this several times without Amtrak Cascades in the past. On those trips. I would take the 412C from Everett to Camano, then the 411C from Camano to Mt. Vernon instead. It’s also possible to take Skagit Transit’s 90X for $2.

      1. That view can be had for less than that. I live in Bellingham and routinely fly the connector flight from Bellingham Int’l Airport to SeaTac when business dictates a tight schedule. When the cost of driving and parking at SeaTac is factored in, it’s often cheaper for us up North to fly out of Bellingham and connect than drive. Independently, Horizon sells the flight for $59 each way. When it’s folded into a connecting fare, it can be as little as an additional $35 or so. And the view is out-of-this-world.

  2. I love this series, even if I prefer to ride my bicycle places!

    Also, a somewhat related question:

    Does Amtrak allow you to unload and load a bicycle at the Mt. Vernon stop? It’s a “non-baggage” stop, which makes me worried. I’m meeting my family in the San Juans, and I want to train/bike/ferry/bike my way there. I’ve loaded and unloaded my bike from the Olympia station, which I think is also a non-baggage stop.

    1. Yes, you can take a bike to Mt. Vernon, but you need to make a reservation for your bike when you reserve your seat. The fee is $5 each way and there are only 6 bike racks in each baggage car. If those spaces are sold out, you will have to box your bike and ship it as baggage, which costs quite a bit more.

    2. Don’t worry! I’ve done it. Sadly, it was after ripping apart a ligament in my right knee, to get myself and my bike home. I bought the ticket and the bike ticket at quik-trak right in the station.

  3. Cool post. I might try this in a couple weeks!

    The various fares encountered on long transit journeys can lead to some interesting thoughts about how transit is funded and subsidized for various types of trips — long transit hikes tend to be really extreme edge cases. Island Transit appears to have a fare structure where all fares are exactly proportional to the user cost of offering the service (of course, it’s the trivial case)…

  4. Hey, nice piece here! Glad to see the Island featured, and IT really does a great job(usually) of getting us around.

    It’s easy to support Island Transit, just vote for ’em every time they’re on the ballot, and we don’t need any silly ORCA card or tranfers, gotta love it.

    The only problem with the 411 is the timing, trying to make B’Ham can be lengthy, but I’m still more than satisfied with their service.

    Thanks, Zach, for featuring Whidbey, like many places here in the PNW, it really is a special place to see in person.

  5. Great stuff! And timely…thanks for the post.

    I wonder if groups like Cascade Bicycle Club & the Mountaineers promote awareness of things like this.

  6. Thanks for outlining this route. You do say this is a Saturday trip, but in case anyone misses that, it might bear pointing out that one shouldn’t take the train to Mt. Vernon on Sunday hoping to complete the trip by bus.

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