Even those who have lived on Whidbey Island for years might not know about Dugualla State Park, part of Deception Pass State Park. Of the seven sites listed on the Deception Pass Park Foundation site, Goose Rock, The Bridge, Cranberry Lake, West Beach, Rosario Beach and Tide Pools, Pass Lake, North Beach, Hoypus Forest, Cornet Bay, Bowman Bay, Dugualla State Park and Kukutali Preserve, it’s the only one not shown on the Official Park Map, “The land that is now Dugualla State Park was originally owned by the Department of Natural Resources as part of the School Lands Trust. In 1992 Washington State Parks acquired the 586 acre property to prevent it from being logged.”
Here you can also find a printable version of the park map displayed just past the entrance to the park, which is accessible by heading south from Deception Pass State Park to Sleeper Road, turning left, continuing past the four way stop at the intersection of Taylor Road, and continuing until the road ends. On the Google Map below, the red icon shows the park location.
Placards on 4×4 posts mark some of the trails.
A more recent map is not included on the kiosk at the entry.
Those who make the effort to visit the park, which has no restroom facilities, will likely find themselves hiking or running in utter solitude. Occasionally, jets stationed at NAS Whidbey fly by. The only real problem with this park is that, except in summer, the trails, especially the wider, older, former logging roads transformed into Beach Trail, North Trail and Wetland Trail, are typically grassy, wet and muddy. This isn’t great for those wearing nice tennis shoes; however, it makes it a great place to find mushrooms, certain wildflowers, and, at least in my experience, toads.
One of the highlights of the park is Big Tree, prominently located along the newer continuation of the North Trail, which is only shown on the newer version of the map.
Although I’ve visited this park a number of times, I once previewed it while wearing my GPS watch in order to figure out a route to run with friends. Starting at the gate, I followed North Trail, passed Big Tree, continued along South Trail and completed Big Loop counterclockwise (repeating part of it on a second partial trip around the loop), then followed Wetland Trail, Slingshot (along the left fork at the end) to Beach Trail (head right), touched Big Tree before turning around and running up Big Tree Trail (go left at the unmarked fork you encounter) back to Wetland Trail (left), Beach Trail (left) to the furthest Slingshot Trail marker. Finally, turn right onto Slingshot Trail (you traverse this one twice) and return to Wetland Trail (right), which I followed back to the trail head. The total mileage turned out to be about a 10 K, but due to watch error, the route wasn’t captured quite right.
The only trail I skipped was the steep portion of the Beach Trail that leads from Big Tree to Dugualla Bay because the beach is only accessible during low tide and it’s a steep return trip back to Big Tree. For the most part, if you are prepared for the wet, boggy terrain, it’s suitable for hiking and trail running.
Note: Although you can get to the beach from the trails, you are not allowed to walk along the beach beyond the park boundary, which would lead you into the Dugualla Bay Heights housing area.
An April 2016 State Parks study indicates the park to be 600 acres in size. The point of the study was to seek public comment on a plan that could include the following “Potential uses” for Dugualla State Park:
- Conference Center
- Golf Course
- SF Cottage rental cluster
- Military Housing rental
- Cell tower
Anyone familiar with the park is unlikely to become too concerned about the possibility of any of these besides maybe cell tower. This is the wettest, muddiest set of trails I’ve every encountered and there is no view (besides of trees) to speak. Plus, Sleeper Road is appropriately named. There are few houses near the end of this quiet street. I can only imagine what local residents might think of this revenue generating plan; however, as of the November 21, 2019 Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, this property was still listed as, “held for future development.”