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Fragrance Lake

Puget Sound and Islands

Location

Puget Sound and Islands -- Bellingham Area
View map below

Length

5.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 950 ft.
Highest Point: 1050 ft.

Rating

3.75 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2021
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

Fragrance Lake is part of Larrabee State Park, which became Washington’s first state park after a 20-acre parcel of land was donated by the Larrabee family in 1915. The park now accounts for a third of the Chuckanut Recreation Area’s 8,000 acres of public land.

The Fragrance Lake trailhead is on Chuckanut Drive, directly across from the main entrance to Larrabee State Park. You’ll find a small parking area to the left just past the ranger station, or, if space is available, there are a dozen parking spots on the east side of Chuckanut Drive. A Discover Pass is required in either lot. A pass kiosk, water and flush toilets are available in the park.

Because the trail sees a lot of boots, it gets a lot of trail maintenance attention from WTA. Apart from one perpetually muddy section, the wide trail does a great job of sloughing off rain. Switchbacks take the bite out of the steeper sections. Many nearby trails allow backpackers, equestrian and mountain bike use, but the trail to Fragrance Lake is restricted to day hikers and (leashed) dogs. There are “kissing gates” at either end of the trail to help with enforcement.

After a mile of steady uphill hiking through old-growth forest, arrive at a junction to a short spur trail that ends at an unexpected viewpoint of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands. Back on the main trail, enjoy a brief downhill stretch before the trail steepens on the way up to the lake. At the next junction, continue left for two tenths of a mile and arrive at Fragrance Lake. Whoever was responsible for the name must have been inspired by the tall trees that completely surround the lake, and the rich scents of bark, pine and soil they provide as the breeze wafts by.

Shed your pack and have a snack! There’s a 0.6-mile loop trail along the shore that provides additional viewpoints and privacy. Rockhounds will love exploring the huge boulders on the west side of the lake. If the weather is good and the body is willing, wade in and cool your feet. Or swim out and join the trout for more frigid exercise.

Head back the way you came, skipping the spur trail on the return. Strong hikers with map in hand could continue to Lost Lake to add another 5.5 miles and 860 feet of cumulative gain to their day. A car drop or key exchange hike might incorporate the recently constructed Rock Trail.

WTA Pro-Tip: To replenish calories, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the sandy beach or lush lawns at Larrabee State Park. If you’re headed back north to Bellingham, it’s hard to beat all-day breakfast at the Old Town Cafe. The drive south on Chuckanut Drive passes several spendy seafood options. For lighter fare and more reasonable prices, hold on for the Train Wreck Bar & Grill in Burlington or the Skagit River Brewery in Mount Vernon.

 

Fragrance Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.6534, -122.4902 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Puget Sound and Islands -- Bellingham Area

Washington State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Square One Chuckanut Recreation Area

USGS Bellingham South

Blanchard Forest and Chuckanut Mtn Trail Systems DNR PDF Map: https://bit.ly/2SaAPL9

Getting There

From Mount Vernon head north on I-5 to exit 231, then navigate the roundabouts to head north on State Route 11/Chuckanut Drive. At approximately 15 miles, turn left into main entrance of Larrabee State Park, or look for trailhead parking on the right. From Bellingham, head south on SR 11 for 7 miles.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Fragrance Lake

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