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.
- 5.5 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 950 feet
- Highest Point
- 1050 feet
Hiking Fragrance Lake
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 48.6534, -122.4902 Open in Google Maps