Getting Kids Out Into Nature

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Category Archives: Hikes

Fragrance Lake Hike TR – June, 2017

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Fragrance Lake

I’m trying to fill in the gaps of kid-friendly trails we haven’t hiked on, and wanted to do something with an easy drive a couple of weeks ago. We slept in late on this beautiful morning, and it turned out Annika’s shoes were too small – once again, I had forgotten to get her new hiking shoes. We stopped by Fred Meyer, our go-to hiking shoe place for last-minute purchases, but the shoes we’ve been using for years didn’t fit properly any more. When Annika moved up to adult sizes, the shoes fit differently. Well, REI was opening in a few minutes nearby, so we decided to head over there before our hike. Thankfully, we were able to get her a super pair of trail runners on clearance. She loves them! They are Solomons, and have lots of great features, like excellent tread, supportive insoles, and waterproof liners. They aren’t heavy or clunky. I am a firm believer in getting shoes that fit well for my kids (and myself, too!), but it’s discouraging to have both fast-growing kids in expensive adult shoes now. I’m grateful for clearance racks and sales even more now than I was before I had kids.

Anyway, Gabe was a good sport, being patient while we took care of shoes. We had a pleasant drive up the freeway to Chuckanut Drive, and stopped at one of the overlooks before we got to Larrabee SP.

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Padilla Bay at Low Tide from Chuckanut Drive

The tide was way out, leaving mud flats as far as the eye could see. We noticed the oyster farms uncovered out in the bay. We ate our lunches before we got to the trailhead, since we were arriving at the most annoying time to start a hike. We used the bathrooms in the main part of Larrabee before scoring a parking space back out on Chuckanut Drive at the trailhead. We geared up quickly and headed up the steep access trail.

Two or three switchbacks await you right from the trailhead, but then you’ll land on the Interurban Trail (a multi-use trail that runs from Fairhaven Park to Larrabee State Park).

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The Trail Entrance from the Interurban Trail

Cross over the Interurban to find the hiking trail heading east into the trees. The Fragrance Lake Trail is mostly wide and well-graded, leading through a thick forest of mature conifers with an undergrowth of mostly sword ferns.

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Typical Understory
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Some of the trail is flat, but there are also many sections that head steeply uphill. After about a mile, there is a spur trail off to the left that goes out to a viewpoint. We decided to save that for the trip back down, and continued onward.

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Trees Hugging Rocks

The trail keeps climbing, gaining almost 1000 feet from the car. You’ll eventually level out and walk eastward into the lake basin. We enjoyed this section of the trail, with more variety of plants, and baby red-breasted sapsuckers calling noisily from the nest high up in a cavity in a tree.

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Sapsucker Evidence
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Three Types of Ferns

Soon the lake comes in view. We found a nice spot to sit and enjoy the scenery, and Annika took her shoes off and did some wading while we ate our snacks. We declined to add the 3/4-mile loop to our hike, since we had some events to get back for in the evening, and it was already mid-afternoon. But I’m guessing kids will enjoy wandering around the loop, based on others’ descriptions.

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Soon enough it was time to head down. At the midpoint, we took the easy spur trail (0.2 mile) out to the lookout. You’ll get a beautiful view of the Salish Sea in this small clearing.

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View From Viewpoint

Then it was back down to the cars.

We really enjoyed this hike. It was the perfect destination for a quick trip, while still providing lots of greenery. You won’t find solitude here, but it’s worth putting on your hikes-to-do list.

If You Go:

This hike is located in Larrabee State Park on Chuckanut Drive. You can reach it from either north or south (Bellingham or Burlington). Drive on Chuckanut Drive (SR 11), and the trailhead is right on Chuckanut, directly across from the main entrance to Larrabee. (If you’re coming from the south, pass by the Lost Lake Trailhead parking area.) You’ll need your State Park Discover Pass to park (available at the entrance to the park if you don’t have one.) The Chuckanut trailhead has room for maybe 10 cars, but if that is full, you can park down in the park by the restrooms. If you need facilities, drive down into the park, where you’ll find flush toilets and running water. After your hike, consider walking down to the beach and enjoying the small pocket coves and rocky tidepools. Hike Stats: 4.5 miles RT, almost 1000 feet elevation gain.

Book Review: Take A Walk: Seattle by Sue Muller Hacking

  The month of March brought some newly published hiking books across my desk. Take A Walk: Seattle, by Sue Muller Hacking (Fourth Edition, Sasquatch Books) is one that I’m impressed with. I’ve been flipping through this book quite a bit this spring, and am surprised that there are trails near me that I haven’t explored yet.…Continue Reading

Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

I recently had the chance to drop my kids off with Grandma in the South Sound, and I had the afternoon free to do a hike by myself. Since I was already down there, I thought I should check out a new trail for the website. I picked Tolmie State Park, northwest of Olympia on…Continue Reading

Semiahmoo Park – Trip Report, 3/10/17

We recently took an afternoon and drove up to Semiahmoo Spit near Blaine to do some birding and check out a new-to-us trail. Semiahmoo Spit is a long sand spit that protects Drayton Harbor. Historically this area was used by Native Americans for harvesting natural resources, and it became an abundant salmon canning area after…Continue Reading

Urban Trails: Kitsap by Craig Romano – Book Review

Many of you are familiar with Craig Romano, the prolific and energetic guidebook writer for Washington State. We use his books all the time to plan our hikes to wild and scenic locations. But it’s not always easy to get out to true wilderness. With iffy weather, packed schedules, family illnesses – sometimes we need…Continue Reading

Pete Lake Backpack, 8/20-21, 2106

Way back in August, Gabe had a camping trip near Salmon La Sac with the teen group at our church. I was ferrying boys up there for one night, so I thought I’d take advantage of the weekend and explore a trail I hadn’t been on before. I asked around for people to come with…Continue Reading

Gold Creek Pond Snowshoes, Day and Night (December 2016)

In December, we made two trips to Gold Creek Pond for snowshoeing. The first was a normal day-time trip, and the other was our second-annual twilight year-end snowshoe. We did both trips with our friend Cindy and her dogs. The first trip was after a large amount of powder had fallen, and the snow was…Continue Reading

Little Cranberry Lake Trip Report – 11/25/16

Even before REI made #OptOutside an event, we have tried for several years to get out into nature on the day after Thanksgiving. This year, Annika was fighting a cold, and I was pretty worn out myself, so we slept in and rested up. In the afternoon, I took Gabe up to Anacortes for a…Continue Reading