Miles: 7.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1455 ft
My Hiking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
I decided to start a new tradition and work off some Christmas eve dinner before I fattened myself. Needing a place near by (cant be late to dinner) I went with another one of the easily accessible Chuckanut mountain trails, the Madrone Crest.
There are a variety of ways that the terminus of this trail can be reached and not all are created equal. For this day I felt that a loop would be best. This way I could experience more than one trail and keep the scenery fresh.
The loop I used was to take the North Lost lake trail until it meets with Salal trail eventually meeting with the Madrone Crest trail. On the return trip I then took the Salal trail to get back to the trail head.
This trail is just what you would expect from the Chuckanuts. Very wooded but filled with freeway noise. The trail (road) was fairly muddy but nothing out of the norm for Washington in December. The Madrone Crest itself has a nice opening where, provided the sky isn't foggy, there should be an excellent view of Baker and the Sisters as there is a wide opening in the trees facing east.
An enjoyable day considering the time restraint I was under but it left me desiring something more. Luckily snow has been falling near Baker and soon snowshoeing season can begin.
Take I-5 Exit 250 and follow Old Fairhaven Parkway / SR 11 west 1.3 miles to 12th Street. Turn Left and follow Chuckanut Drive / SR11 south 1.5 miles to trailhead parking area on the left.
Miles: 4.8 Round-trip
Elevation Gain: 1300 ft
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
My Hiking Time: 3 hrs with lots of picture breaks
With school out for winter break, and the madness of finals through, the woods seemed like the perfect retreat. As I have already hiked through much of the Chuckanuts here in Bellingham, I decided to look for a new experience and landed on Cedar lake.
The trail starts off climbing a wide path, more of a road, up the mountain. For most of this hike this will be your path as it continues to climb. Although I generally like to say all the good about a hike that I can, I am at a loss on this one. The slog up the main hill is uninteresting at best with very little to distract your attention from the constant rushing sound of the nearby freeway. That being said the hike does have its good side as well.
Once you crest the top of the hill the sound of the freeway begins to fade as the silence of the woods takes over. From here the hike becomes a nice stroll through green wilderness until you reach the trail junction for pine and cedar lakes. The two lakes are very close to each other and can easily be done in one trip. However, true to lazy college student fashion I chose to only visit one. Cedar lake is a nice little lake with a decent path that goes at least part way around the lake. It also has easy access to a viewpoint of Mt Baker and the San Juan's, but with the heavy fog in the air it seemed best to just enjoy the lake.
While not the most scenic hike, it was a nice escape from the city and life for a few hours. If you are looking for a nice laid back hike that won't take up your whole day then this would be the perfect solution.
Driving Directions per the city of Bellingham
Take I-5 Exit 250 and follow Old Fairhaven Parkway / SR 11 west 0.1 miles to 30th Street. Turn left on 30th Street for 0.9 miles to Old Samish Road. Turn left on Old Samish road for 1.3 miles to trailhead parking area on the right.
Permits: Discover Pass Required
Elevation Gain: Unknown
My Hiking Time: 5 hrs
With the weather barley hanging on it seemed like time to get out once more before I have to put on a pair of snowshoes to get around in the woods. While that does sound enticing, with the small crowds and virtually open country, I am not looking forward to the extra work it requires. So I was excited to hit the trails at least one more time in my hiking boots.
This trail begins at an almost unnoticeable trail head on the side of Highway 11, near milepost 10. Finding it can be difficult if the trail is empty, but most days it should be obvious from the long line of cars on the west side of highway 11.
Begin by climbing up the side of Blanchard hill, following 4 long switchbacks for about 1.9 miles to a trail junction. Go left at this point to stay on the main trail leading toward Lilly lake and Oyster dome. Here the trail becomes a little more interesting as it crosses a couple of creeks, and passes a viewpoint that looks out over Samish bay. After about a mile, the trail curves right and heads straight up a large hill, eventually reaching a plateau.
At the plateau the trail forks once again, I headed right to get a view of Lilly lake. From here it is just 0.4 easy miles to the shores of the lake. I was surprised to see that the trees were blanketed in snow as I approached, and the shores had a good 6 inches all around. With very little area to sit and enjoy some lunch with all the snow, I headed around to the left following the camping trail.
I must say that the camping available at Lilly lake was of fairly poor quality except for the last site as you go around the lake. However, after seeing the camping available at lizard Lake I would not even recommend using that one for the night.
Once around the lake, about 0.2 miles, the trail splits again, I headed right toward Lizard lake. From here the trail drops down through the woods and comes out on the shore of Lizard lake.
Lizard lake seemed like the much better of the two lakes. It was less crowded and had far nicer camping spaces. It seemed like a good place for an early season weekend out, and in fact there were some campers there enjoying a decent sized fire. After inspecting the lake for a few minutes and finding little area to sit again due to snow I retraced my steps to the plateau and took the left trail toward Oyster dome.
From the plateau it is only a a short 0.25 miles to the top of Oyster Dome where you will get an excellent view over Samish bay. Finally finding a place to sit I got out my jet boil and heated up some cocoa to keep warm in the chilly wind.
After soaking in the view for about 30 minutes, I headed home feeling rejuvenated.
Permits: Discover Pass Required
Elevation Gain: 1300 ft
My Hiking Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
After heading back to school this past two weeks I decided it was time to get a little hiking in, so I drove down highway 11 looking for an easy day out.
The trail to lost lake begins on a service road, and while that didn't sound super appealing at first, the trail itself has a nice secluded feel to it. After about one mile the road splits in two, head left to continue on, following the sign for fragrance lake. Quickly after the fork, at about 1.5 miles from the trail head, a small waterfall comes into view, providing the perfect opportunity to stop for a drink of water and some pictures.
Leaving the waterfall, the trail continues its steady climb on the service road for about another 0.7 miles before reaching the junction with the Lost Lake Trail. Head right at this point to continue on towards the lake. From here the trail becomes more trail than road as it starts to leave behind that sense of civilization.
After climbing for about another mile or so the trail begins to lose elevation as it approaches the shores of the lake. Once at the bottom of the hill there are two trails with two wooden poles and no signs. Go to the right to get to the lake.
After arriving at the lake, I was disappointed that there was little to no shore area where I could sit and heat up some cocoa. So naturally I decided to explore the banks and see what I could find.
If you continue to the left as you approach the lake and follow the path up the ridge, it leads to a fairly large open area with an excellent view of the lake in both directions (see picture on right). Enjoying the view I sat down to indulge in a Clif bar and soak up the view.
Just as I was leaving the fog started to roll back in over the lake and a large crowd was coming down the hill. Seems like I timed it perfectly today.
From I-5 Take exit 250 and turn onto Old Fairhaven Parkway. Left if coming north right if headed south. Follow Old Fairhaven parkway for about 1 mile then turn left at the light onto 12th street. Take a slight left at the next light to stay on Chuckanut Drive/ Highway 11 and follow for approximately 5.5 miles. The trail head parking lot will be on your left.
My name is Abrahm and I am a college student, and outdoor enthusiast . I spend much of my free time wandering through and photographing the great Pacific Northwest state of Washington.
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