Hoypus Point:  Big Marsh and Slug Slough Trails

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

Last week, I continued exploring the Hoypus Point and Hoypus Hill sections of Deception Pass State Park.  I found two more trails on the map with interesting names, Big Marsh and Slug Slough.  These names implied wetlands which are always interesting places to visit.  I would encounter wetlands on this hike, but not where I expected.  I would also catch the little Julie Trail, Hemlock Hideaway, the Short Trail and some of the Old Hoypus Logging Road.  The photo above pretty much characterizes the entire three hour trek.  Where you see water, that is the trail.

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

To reach Big Marsh and Slug Slough trails, my route would follow some trails already explored as follows.  The numbers correspond to the State Park Trail Map (.pdf):
According to my wristband tracker, I covered 8.76 miles using 18,870 steps and climbed the equivalent of 58 flights of stairs up to that point for the day.  The trail map indicates an elevation gain of about 400 feet/122 meters.

Sitka Spruce, Deception Pass State Park

A maturing Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) that had grown from a nurse log caught my eye.  I had never seen a tree this large with its nurse log still intact and visible.  The spruce looked like it was now protecting and caring for its foster mother.

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

I made my way to the short Julie Trail off of Fern Gully.  It was a steady uphill climb to the Old Hoypus Hill Logging Road at the very top of the photo.  I wish I knew who Julie was and why the trail was named after her.

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park
Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

I was surprised that the Hoypus Hill Logging Road was actually a road and it showed recent traffic.  I guess I was expecting something more overgrown and primitive.  Don't let the word "road" fool you, however, it was quite muddy and soft to walk on.  After about half a mile, I reached the Big Marsh trailhead.  On the way, I took a side trip on the Short Trail to Ducken Road.  This is a paved Island County road and one of the access points to the State Park trails.

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

I never did see the "Big Marsh" where it was indicated on the map.  I believe that is it beyond the trees in the photo.  It was much further away than the lens made it look, so I didn't venture off the trail to get over there.  Maybe I'll try it another time.

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

The 0.6 mile (1 km) Big Marsh Trail was not an easy hike.  Constant ups and downs, bends, roots, debris and numerous water hazards (and I mean numerous) made it more of an obstacle course than a trail.  Be prepared for something more vigorous than a "walk in the park."  Hiking it brought a nice sense of challenge and accomplishment I wasn't expecting.

This winter has been rainier than usual.  In the week before this hike, we experienced what is called an atmospheric river rain event. This delivered inches of rain to the area.  One discovery I've made is a tendency to flooding and wet conditions on these Hoypus trails.  A long section of the Fireside Trail was now a flowing stream.  This is a stark contrast to most of the other hikes in Deception Pass State Park.  I will be curious to see what these wet conditions produce come spring and summer.

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

I was happy to reach the next trailhead to Slug Slough.  Unfortunately, I would not find any slugs.

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

Waterproof footwear is highly recommended for the Hoypus trails.

Palmate Coltsfoot, Deception Pass State Park

On the way back, I spotted some Palmate Coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus var. palmatus) popping up next to the West Hoypus Trail (left).  It likes wet, shady conditions, so it must have been right at home here.  Those leaves can grow to 16 inches/40 cm across.  Look closely and you will see a couple of flowers already blooming in late February.  Those are the female flowers.  The male flowers look like pinkish tufts of fur.

I also noticed lots of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) coming up next to the trails in more open areas (right).  Anyone in healthcare will recognize the genus name is similar to urticaria.  This is an unpleasant itching, stinging or burning rash.  Brush against the plant and you will experience this for yourself.  The plant injects formic acid through needle-like hairs on the stems and under the leaves.  That is the same irritant produced by ants (Formicidae) that deliver stinging bites.  Some people eat nettle leaves, but they can have my share.

Cornet Bay Fishing, Deception Pass State Park
Cornet Bay Fishing, Deception Pass State Park

On returning to the docks at Cornet Bay, I enjoyed watching people fishing for herring.  Besides hiking, is there a better way to spend a winter day?

I have now hiked 14 of the 16 named trails in the Hoypus Point section of the park.  Only the North Fork (22) and Shady Way (23) trails remain.  I'll catch those soon along with an additional 2 miles of the Old Hoypus Logging Road I have not seen.  I will wait for things to dry out a bit.  This also means I have hiked 28 of the 30 total trails in Deception Pass State Park.

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