Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2019
The Larrabee State Park Ranger Station only had photocopied hiking trail and camping loop maps. As the trail system got figured out, the maps began to make sense. The figuring out process took several days.
The goal was to walk to the top of the giant hill on the east side of Larrabee State Park. The apparent trailheads were just across the street (Chuckanut Drive, WA-11). One was to the left of the park entrance, the other to the right.
Small wonder that the first attempt on Sunday failed. Using the trail to the north of the park entrance, climbing the steep trail up to the Interurban Trail, turning left (north) to follow the Interurban Trail before looking for the Fragrance Lake trail sign. There wasn’t one. The photocopied trail map showed the Fragrance Trail right there. Just kept going north on the Interurban Trail.
Not that good judgement was used on the decision to turn around and try another day. Sunday’s walk turned out to be over a mile north to the turnaround point where the Interurban Trail, running parallel to Chuckanut Drive, cuts across a private driveway to a farm house. Definitely went too far. Oops!
The Interurban Trail is fairly level as one would expect a railroad right-of-way would be. It also appears to serve as a utility easement. The hard packed crushed rock surface is sufficiently smooth that bicyclist might find the trail a better and safer choice to ride on than congested Chuckanut Drive.
Failure finding the Fragrance Lake Trail caused some reflection. Apparently, not enough reflection was accomplished as on Monday morning, a different avoidable mistake was made.
On Monday, walking out the park entrance across Chuckanut Drive, I went to the right or south trail and climbed up to the Interurban Trail through a series of switchbacks similar to the left/north trail. On reaching the Interurban Trail, turned right and went south because the previous day I turned left/north and missed the trail.
The flawed logic missed one very important idea. The Fragrance Lake Trail was between the left/north and the right/south trails on the Interurban Trail. Not to worry as often luck can be much more powerful than reason.
Roughly half a mile south down the Interurban Trail was an unnamed trail. Not the trail I wanted but it certainly went in the right direction, up hill. This trail is easy to spot. It is just south of (or before) what appears to be the park’s sewer plant which is slightly visible in the above picture.
The trail ends at a well made gravel road. Luck was still with me. The road turned out to be Fragrance Lake Road.
Along the road was the end of the Double Down bike trail.
Some points along the Fragrance Lake Road are steep (20% grade or better). In places, the uphill and/or downhill slopes on the side of the road can be unbelievably steep. The road also crosses deep ravines. Often it feels like one could fall of the edge into the abyss.
Fragrance Lake Road has the trailhead for the upper part of the Double Down bike trail.
A trail to Lost Lake.
Finally I find a decent map on a kiosk.
The only problem is, the most important part of the map is scratched out by some bonehead. An unadulterated version of this map can be found here.
Even with the most important area of the map defaced, Fragrance Lake Road connects to Fragrance Lake Trail. The goal is now in sight.
Finally, Fragrance Lake Trail is found.
Actually, Fragrance Lake Trail doesn’t really cross Fragrance Lake Road. Rather, one can find a short trail to Fragrance Lake Road to Fragrance Lake Trail.
The fog became much thicker closer to Fragrance Lake. The lake itself, shrouded in fog.
With a name like Fragrance Lake, one would expect some smell, good or bad. The only smell was the usual Pacific Northwest Forest smell. A smell only special if you have been away for a long time and miss it. The lake’s elevation is 1,040 feet. The park is on Puget Sound, sea level.
Now that the trail’s location is well known and the lake has been seen, it is time to return to camp by way of Fragrance Lake Trail. The trail turned out to be more interesting and direct than the road taken on the way up.
Fog along the trail muted sounds and limited site.
At times the trail seemed as if it crossed through Middle Earth where Hobbits live.
The scenic overlook was a 0.3 mile each way diversion. The overlook was fogged in. In theory, from this vantage point, a good view of Puget Sound and the islands can be found.
Much of this trail is exceedingly steep. I passed a number of hikers on their way up the trail as I was traveling down. They came individually and in groups. Some had unleashed dogs but were good enough to leash their dogs as I approached them with mine.
The trail ends at the Interurban Trail. Since the trailhead is between the two trails and parking lots across the street from the park entrance, it doesn’t matter if hikers go to the left or right (north or south).
Once down to Chuckanut Drive level, look across Chuckanut Drive to the Larrabee State Park entrance.
This is a good and strenuous hike. The total elevation gain is around 1,100 feet to go from the park to Fragrance Lake. Fragrance Lake is below the top of Chuckanut Mountain.
I never did climb to the top of the mountain. Spoiler alert! By taking Chuckanut Drive to Hiline Road to Cleator Road, drivers can drive to a parking lot near the Upper Ridge Trail. This trail goes to the top of Chuckanut Mountain.
Hope to see you on the trail ahead!