Scenic Drive - State Route 11...

Popularly known as Chuckanut Drive, it meanders down the coast of Washington State between Bellingham and Burlington. The 24-mile curvy route hugs the sheer sandstone cliffs of the Chuckanut Mountains.

The Chuckanut Mountains (from “Chuckanut,” a native word for “Long beach far from a narrow entrance”), or Chuckanut’s, are located on the northern Washington state coast of the Salish Sea, just south of Bellingham, Washington. 

This gorgeous drive is sometimes called Washington’s Big Sur. It is one of those drives that if you are in the neighborhood, you have to take it! Throughout this lovely drive, you will be treated to views of the Chuckanut Mountains, overlooks of Samish Bay, and peek-a-boo glimpses of the San Juan Islands and Chuckanut Bay below.

 

The woodsy bends and gorgeous island views provide a natural backdrop for showcasing cars on this infamous road. This is why many world-class companies have been used as a commercial filming location, including Cadillac, Chevy, Ferrari, Ford, Nissan, Porsche, and Toyota.

You’ll find the Interurban Trail (H1) on the northern end of the road, a favorite with hikers and bikers alike. This trail runs about 5 miles from Larrabee State Park to Old Fairhaven Parkway. Camp or meander through Larrabee State Parks easy paths through stands of madrona trees down to water’s edge, where the tidepool exploring is always fun, it’s known for its postcard beaches and views. Stop for a picnic at one of the several observation points and enjoy Samish Bay’s sights and the San Juan Islands.

Fairhaven Park (H2) has some excellent walking trails along Padden Creek and is also a great place for a picnic. If it’s a nice day, kids may enjoy wading in the pond or feeding the local duck population.

If getting out and adventurous isn’t your speed, don’t let that deter you from enjoying this stretch of scenic highway. It is also home to some of the best food found in any rural area in the Pacific Northwest.

Along the drive, you will come across the tiny hamlet of Bow. This little village has four buildings, and they’re all worth a visit. One is home to a renowned artisan cheesemaker. One is a quirky junk store. The third and fourth are an unassuming remodeled house and gas station where you’ll find what is widely regarded as two of the Northwest’s finest restaurants.

And if hiking is your passion, be sure to check out Oyster Dome. It’s one of the areas finest! They are some of the easiest to access and offer perfect year-round trails for hiking and biking. Explore the Bat Caves at Boulder Cave Trail #962, 5 miles round trip, with a 2,000-foot elevation gain. Biking is also beautiful along the Chuckanut’s.

Suppose you’d instead take a stroll through tulip fields in spring or find a cozy restaurant and feast on fresh shellfish. Search for treasures in shops or beach glass along the water. Take a hike up past the tree line or down along a white-sand beach. Chuckanut Drive is one of those byways that will leave you wanting to linger just a little longer.

A few of the Top Trails:

Chuckanut Mountain & Larrabee State Park Hiking Trails
Located between Chuckanut Drive Highway 11 and Interstate 5, the Chuckanut Mountains offer a variety of trails. The trails listed are accessed on the west side of the mountain. Some can be reached via I-5 exit 240 while others have a $5 parking lot. (Miles listed are one way)

Fragrance Lake Trail (1.9 miles / 3 km)
This popular trail is relatively steep and takes you to the lake. There is a nice overlook at 9/10 of a mile. Paid parking across from the Larrabee State Park entrance. Discover pass is required.

Pine & Cedar Lakes Trail (2-3 miles)
Steep for 1.5 miles, then levels off on an abandoned railroad grade. Outstanding alpine-type lakes, and vistas of Bellingham, Mt. Baker and the islands at an overlook near the lakes.

Oyster Dome (3.6-7.2 miles)
There is a network of trails on the Southern part of the Chuckanuts. The Dome trail starts from Chuckanut Drive, a few miles south of Larrabee State Park. Spectacular views and boulder fields.

Chuckanut Ridge Trail (4 miles)
This trail meanders along the mountain ridge and offers great views. An easy way to access it is to drive up a dirt road so you’re already at the top! From the Fairhaven District, drive south on Chuckanut Drive for about four miles. Turn left onto Highline Road (just before the fire station). This road veers left becoming Cleator Road. Drive for about three miles to the parking area. From here the trail heads north. It connects to other trails, so keep an eye on where you’re going. Also, there is a gate that is locked at dusk.

Clayton Beach (1/2 miles) 
A nice short trail to the beach just south of the Larrabee Park entrance. Parking available at Lost Lake.

 

Be sure to enjoy the magnificent sunset before you head back north on i5 to your cozy getaway at the Oostema Farmstead. We will keep the light on for ya. 

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