Fragrance Lake in Larrabee State Park

Fragrance Lake in Larrabee State Park

By: Shelby January 19, 2016 9:30 pm 5 comments

Yesterday, I had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, but Spenser didn’t, so I took myself on a little solo adventure, my first of its kind. I wanted to take it easy, but also discover a place I had never been to before. The weather was looking pretty spotty all weekend, and I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere with snow by myself, so after a couple of recommendations from coworkers, I settled on Fragrance Lake up on the famously scenic Chuckanut Drive.

FragranceLake-header

I dropped Spenser at work downtown around 9am and made it to the parking lot around an hour and a half later – not bad! Not as long as I thought it would take, and the drive was freaking beautiful. Once I got off I-5 in Mount Vernon, I drove straight northwest through some idyllic farmland. Eagles, falcons, herons, and snow geese filled the sky, and snow-topped mountains lined the horizon behind me. Chuckanut Drive hugs the cliffs of Chuckanut Mountain and is dotted with some fantastic looking seafood restaurants. I arrived at Larrabee and parked, not really knowing where I was going. As I was going to renew my Discover Pass, I discovered (heh) that today was a free entrance day! Wahoo.

I saw signs for the beach, so I thought I’d check that out. I crossed under the railroad tracks and the path went two directions. I went towards the one where there were no screaming children. The trail dumped me off at a short, rocky beach area.

Down by the beach

Down by the beach

After a couple of minutes down there, I contemplated following the beach trail on up or finding the trailhead I was here for. I decided my time was short and my legs only had so much juice today after a couple of pretty intense days this weekend, so I moseyed my way back up the hill to find the Fragrance Lake trailhead. It ended up being across Chuckanut Drive from where I was parked. The street parking for the trailhead was packed, so I was okay with having headed directly for a more distant lot instead of trying to hassle with the limited street spots.

the trailhead on Chuckanut Drive

the trailhead on Chuckanut Drive

The hike started right up the mountain (I mean, there wasn’t much else it could do), and quickly crossed over Bellingham’s Interurban trail and up, up, up the hill. The forest was open and beautiful, with a lush carpet of ferns.

2015-4

2015-5

2015-6

I quickly made it up to the split in the trail and turned towards the viewpoint of the Puget Sound and Lummi Island. The trail flattened out so I pretty much flew out there in a couple of minutes. It was pretty crowded at the small clearing, and a group of kids had climbed over the shaky railing to get a selfie at the edge of the steep drop off, so I got out of there before they needed to be rescued…

from the Viewpoint

from the Viewpoint

I got back on the main trail and it climbed up and up and up. My thighs were burning after my Saturday 5k and Sunday’s tough acroyoga workout. What is wrong with me? I thought. Why do I do this to myself?  I do it because it’s fun, that’s why.

There were a ton of off-leash dogs on the hike (despite the leash laws). It doesn’t normally bother me too much, but some of them were getting a little out of hand. I really don’t like it when a dog or two run up to me and I can’t see their people at all yet, and even less when those dogs don’t respond when their people call them back.

I had been a little nervous about going on my first solo hike. Well, I lied, it wasn’t my first solo hike. I had one day of solo hiking deep in the Olympics, but Spenser and friends were just about an hour behind me on the trail. I’ll talk about that another day. But this was my first solo-start-to-finish adventure. I don’t know why I had been nervous. I noticed when I was hiking just how many solo women I saw hiking, either with dogs or without. I realized that I could have been afraid of not having anybody to share my experience with, but that’s what I’m doing right now. This put me at ease for this and all future hikes I might go on by myself. Yay woman power!

Signage at the top of the trail

Signage at the top of the trail

Rock wall along the trail

Rock wall along the trail

After climbing up the muddy trail for what felt like forever, the trail flattened out again and pretty soon I was at the lake. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t amazing. There was a .75 mile loop trail around, with a couple of small, open, beach spots, but beyond that, no amazing viewpoints.

Fragrance Lake

Fragrance Lake

Fragrance Lake

Fragrance Lake

By the time I found a decent spot to sit and eat a blueberry crisp Clif bar, it was getting pretty windy and chilly. Like, super windy. It made an outrageous noise in the trees as it came in off the water. I booked it back down to the viewpoint turnoff, and decided to give that one more try, since the spur was flat and only added .4 mile onto to the hike. It was much calmer when I got back, with only a couple of people hanging out. I thought “I can stick around until they leave and actually have a couple seconds to myself” but as they got up to leave, a snarling, barking chihuahua shattered my sweet silence, and I walked back down the trail to the car so I could eat my lunch. All in all, it was a great adventure.

2015-16

2015-17

2015-18

2015-19

Back to the viewpoint. It's nice up here.

Back to the viewpoint. It's nice up here.

2015-21

Total hiking time: 2hrs 10 min
Total distance: 5.5 miles

Discover Pass required.

Directions: from Seattle, take I-5 north to Mount Vernon and take exit 231 towards SR 11/Chuckanut Drive. Follow the road for about 15 miles and either pull inside Larrabee State Park on the left or find street parking on the right.

 

 

5 Comments

Leave a reply