Every day Seasonal


Cypress Head is the eastern most point of Cypress Island. This location offers island visitors a choice beach landing and when in season, a beautiful campground. Its shape can be likened to a ship anchored parallel to the coast of the main island and attached by way of a long sandy gangplank. This low sandy beach would normally be called a sand-spit but with both ends anchored to land forms it is known by the unusual term "tombolo." This arrangement forms two coves that are completely different. The south cove is long, narrow, and cliff lined. Exposed to the prevailing south winds it is less frequently entered by even small boats. On the north however, a pleasant and usually sheltered moorage can be found. The long sand and pebble beach provides a welcomed landing for paddlers and dinghies.

Boating to Cypress Head requires careful consideration of currents. This headland juts sharply eastward pinching the waters of the Bellingham Channel to less than a mile from Indian Village of Guemes Island. Very strong currents and shears form around the head during all tidal changes. Boaters and especially paddlers from the south face the greatest difficulty. Some prefer hugging the rocky shore as closely as possible and making a strong final effort to round the head, entering the protected waters of the north cove. Others may opt for a circle route far to the east and north in attempting to avoid these currents. Careful boaters will time their arrivals and departures to minimize these hazards.

Used for centuries as a location for foraging and gathering, Cypress Head continues to provide a well appreciated temporary home for island travelers. This is one of the few places on (or more appropriately, attached to) Cypress Island that when seasonally open, allows campers to spend the night. Access to the campground is by way of the beach, up a short steep step, onto the "head." This pleasant forest location just above the rocky shoreline provides attractive tree-framed views of islands, open water and distant mountains. While not an official trail, a boot track runs the perimeter of this little "island" taking in the Cypress Light on the south end and the top of the rock cliffs facing the main island across the narrow south cove. Be careful, there is little warning of drop-offs and there are no soft landings to be found if you fall off any of the high places.

The trailhead and accessible restrooms for the Cypress Head Trail (see article this website) are located on the other side of the tombolo below the steep hillside of Cypress. The trail connects Cypress Head with the rest of the main island’s extensive trail system. This steep forest trail is often used by lucky day hikers who have a boat shuttle available. Dropped off at either Pelican Beach or Eagle Harbor to the north there are a number of connecting trails to choose from. After enjoying their selection of island features, they have only a final steep downhill hike to Cypress Head to meet their boat pick-up for the ride home.

The natural setting and low impact campsites of Cypress Head reveal little of its past. Once considered as an exclusive government light station, it later became a popular Scout Camp during the mid-1900s. When seasonally open, campers will find activity at this remote location to settle as darkness approaches. With only primitive campsites and no fresh water available, it is the natural world of Cypress that draws visitors to spend the night. During exceptionally quiet calm evenings it would not be unexpected to hear the low rhythmic spouting of orcas passing close by your camp. Did you hear them? Or was it an island dream?
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 3/9/2010


On the eastern shore of Cypress Island, this point of land projects sharply out into the Bellingham Channel less than a mile from Guemes Island. The northern cove is considered the safest but approach cautiously due to strong currents that form with all tidal changes.


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