Larrabee State Park, Bellingham, WA
One particularly cold winter weekend in February we headed north to Larrabee State Park. It had been years since we first visited the area and we were eager to see how well our memories served.
Great cliffs of sandstone line the sound here, making for less beach access and more dropoffs into the sound. The views were great - looking over Bellingham Bay to Lummi Island, the San Juans, and Canada on clearer days. The state park is situation right next to the railroad and the Puget Sound. The campground is quite close to the tracks and subsequently the noise of the trains. One sign claimed that 16 trains pase by each day and night, but either the sign is old or it should have read that 16 trains per day and per night passby. There were definitely more than 16 trains in a 24 hour timeframe. It was somewhat amusing to be woken up every hour or so by the train. I actually didn't mind it so much when we were there, but were where only there for 2 nights.
The state park has some beach acess, but the majority of the park lies on the other side of Chuckanut Drive. The park preserves some great secondary and primary forest of maple, douglas fir, and hemlock. A network of trails traverses the dense forest - providing trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. We hiked up to Fragrance Lake and over to Lost Lake. At the higher elevations, snow dusted the ground and it even snowed on the more easterly side of the mountain. The best trail we hiked was the newer Rock Trail that hugged close to the large sandstone boulders.
Birds seen and heard during our stay were typical of forested Western Washington. Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hairy Woodpeckers and Varied Thrush were frequently heard in the dense forest. On the Sound, both Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, and Red-breasted Mergansers dove in waters right offshore. Black Oystercatcher poked along the rocky outcrops. And the ever present Bald Eagle perched in trees overlooking the sound.
Despite the cold temperatures, there were quite a few people hiking and biking the trails. It is a popular park and I could imagine it being crowded in the summer. It was very enjoyable during our cold and wet time there. The snow even added to the beauty of the forest, lakes, and massive rock faces.