Goose Rock is a treasury of native plant species, as is the whole area, and is known as well for its wonderful views of Puget Sound, Whidbey Island and Deception Pass. It is at the north end of Whidbey Island where the Deception Pass bridge joins Whidbey to Fidalgo Island and overlooks Deception Pass, the narrow channel, known for its treacherous currents, that separates the two islands.
Goose Rock is 484 feet above sea level at the highest point and can be reached by a short trail from the parking area at the bridge, though there are other trails as well. It is important for the granite "balds," exposed rocky areas with a thin layer of soil, that are found at the top of the rock. We have found that, in spite of heavy use, there are many native orchids along the trails and in the woods.
On a recent trip there, I found three native orchids in bloom, all three late summer orchids. One of the three, Goodyera oblongifoloia, the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis, or Rattlesnake Plantain, is so common that I rarely even stop to take pictures of it, and here too it was everywhere in the woods and at the top of the rock. Though common I found some large clumps that were worth photographing.
The other two orchids were both Piperias. At the beginning of the trail I found one large robust plant of Piperia elongata, the Long-spurred Piperia, and then found a few more plants at a junction in the trail. The flowers of this species are distinguished by the green flowers and long downward-curving spur. The plants I found ranged from 30 to 60 cm in height and were at the peak of their bloom.
The other was Piperia transversa, the Flat-spurred Piperia. It is distinguished by flowers whose segments have a green stripe down the center and by a spur that is more or less horizontal. This plant was everywhere in dry, mossy, sunny areas in the woods, in some cases with many spikes. These plants were generally shorter than the other species, little more than 30 cm at their tallest.