Hike of the week: Fragrance Lake Loop

April 8, 2011 

Hike description: Fragrance Lake is one of the many treasures in the Chuckanut Mountain Recreation Area, an area on the outskirts of Bellingham managed jointly by the city Bellingham, Whatcom County and state parks departments, and state Fish and Wildlife Department.

This loop trek takes you up a forested trail to the lake, around the lake and then back out on an old fire road. Taking the road out gives you different scenery, including an unnamed babbling brook. As you head up the trail at 0.9 mile, you will come to a short (0.2 mile) side trail. Take this spur off to the left for views of Samish Bay, Lummi Island and the San Juan Islands. At 1.9 miles from the trailhead, you will come to a barrier of sorts to keep bicycles from the upper trail around the lake. Go left to Fragrance Lake, reached in 0.1 mile. The 0.7-mile trail around the lake passes several areas with benches for lunch by the lake. Circumnavigating the lake in a counter-clockwise direction, about three-fourths of the way around you will come to another trail heading off from the lake to the north. Go back to the south end of the lake to go back the way you came.

Retracing your steps, you will come quickly to a junction at the bicycle barrier. Straight ahead is the trail you came up on and to your left is the old fire road. Take the road to make this a loop trip. A map is an essential piece of equipment on this trail. There are multiple trails in the area with unsigned intersections.

Directions: Take Interstate 5 Exit 231 and pick up state Route 11 (Chuckanut Drive) in Burlington. Drive north on Chuckanut Drive for 15 miles to the trailhead. The trailhead will be on your right (east side of the road), just north of the entrance to Larrabee State Park. If you are starting in Bellingham you will drive seven miles south on Chuckanut Drive and find the small trailhead parking lot on your left just before the entrance to Larrabee State Park.

Difficulty rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)

Miles round-trip: 5.5

Elevation: 1,000 feet

Best time of year: Year-round

Map: Chuckanut Recreation Area by Square One Maps,www.squareonemaps.com

Pass: None needed

Information: “Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck”, Mountaineers Books

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