If there’s one thing that Washington isn’t lacking, it’s trees. Oh and state parks.
People from other states might struggle to understand why any state needs more than 100 state parks (124 to be exact).
Well, Washington state is so incredible that, believe it or not, it can have 100 state parks and every single one of them is different and still worth visiting.
One of my absolute favorite is a local park to me, Larrabee State Park.
Larrabee State Park is nestled in Bellingham, Washington and offers activities and views that draw in tens of thousands of visitors per year (but somehow doesn’t feel crowded).
With its stunning views of Chuckanut Bay, miles of trails, and plenty of other fun things to do in the area, I’m going to share my opinion that Larrabee State Park is the perfect spot for pretty much everyone’s next vacation.
So let’s do it!
The area that now makes up Larrabee State Park has been inhabited by Native Americans since ancient times.
In 1853, settlers began arriving from Europe and homesteading on the land near what is now known as Chuckanut Mountain. By 1915, Charles Larrabee had purchased much of this land and donated it to become part of what we know today as Larrabee State Park.
Location & Accessibility
Larrabee State Park can be found at 4172 S Shore Road in Bellingham, WA 98229. The park is easily accessible via I-5 or Highway 11/Chuckanut Drive; both routes will take you directly into the heart of the park’s many attractions.
If you don’t have a car, there are several public transportation options available to get you to and from Larrabee State Park.
Larrabee State Park offers over a mile of shorline as well as miles of trails of trails for hiking or biking through lush forests filled with tons of native plants inclding Douglas fir trees and western red cedars, perfect for wildlife viewing opportunities.
Campers can also enjoy camping sites along Samish Bay which provide easy access to fishing spots or boating activities on calm waters during summer months.
Picnic areas (and two reservable pincinc shelters) are also scattered throughout the park so visitors can enjoy lunch while taking in breathtaking views across Samish Bay towards Mount Baker’s snowcapped peak year-round. There are 45 picnic tables around the park but they’re first come first serve so you’ll want to grab one before lunch time!
Exploring the Trails at Larrabee State Park
Fragrance Lake Trail
The Fragrance Lake Trail is one of Larrabee’s most popular routes. This easy-to-moderate trail will take you around the lake and up through an old-growth forest. As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for birds, deer, and other wildlife. The total distance of this hike is 5.5 miles (roundtrip) with an elevation gain of 950 feet.
Lost Lake Trail
The North Lost Lake Trail is another popular route in Larrabee State Park. This moderate (but long) trail takes you through lush green forests and meadows before eventually leading you up to Lost Lake itself. There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting along the way as well as stunning views of Mount Baker from the lake’s shoreline. The total distance of this hike is 9.2 miles with an elevation gain of 1100 feet.
Samish Overlook Trail
For those looking for something a bit more family friendly, try out the Samish Overlook Trail. This moderate-to-difficult trail takes hikers up steep switchbacks and into thick forests before finally reaching the summit where they can enjoy panoramic views of Samish Bay and Mount Baker. The total distance of this hike is 4.7 miles with an elevation gain of 1105 feet.
Other Types Of Trails In Larrabee State Park
For those looking for an adrenaline rush, there are several biking trails at Larrabee State Park that range in difficulty from beginner to expert level.
If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Larrabee State Park, you can also consider horseback riding.
There are three designated equestrian trails – each offering something different – including a 6-mile loop around Fragrance Lake and two shorter loops around Lost Lake and Oyster Dome.
This is not something I’ve ever done in the park so be sure to check out all safety regulations before embarking on your ride.
Other Activities at Larrabee State Park
If you want something to do besides walking around aimlessly in the woods (or “hiking” as people in the PNW call it) then you’re not alone!
Fortunatley, there are enough destinations and distractions in the park to make the walks worth it. Here are a few other things that you can find and enjoy during your trip.
Tidepooling & Rockhounding
Whenever we visit Larrabee we spent the majority of our time looking through tidepools and messing around on the “beach.”
Of course, it not really a beach persay but a pile of different sized rocks but it’s always fun anyway.
We spotted a ton of birds, anenomes, starfish, tons of seashells, and about everything else you’d expect from a beach in Washington.
A word of warning…
If you’re going to be spending time near the water, be very careful. Rocks are slippery and barnacles are sharp.
Camping and Picnicking Opportunities:
Larrabee State Park offers camping sites with stunning views of Samish Bay. There are also several picnic areas available throughout the park, perfect for enjoying a meal outdoors while taking in the breathtaking scenery.
Fishing and Boating on Samish Bay:
Fishing enthusiasts will love exploring the waters of Samish Bay from Larrabee State Park.
The bay is home to many species of fish including salmon, steelhead trout, bass, perch and more. Visitors can also rent kayaks or paddleboards from nearby vendors if they don’t have their own boat.
Wildlife Viewing and Birdwatching Opportunities:
With its lush forests and open meadows, Larrabee State Park is home to many different types of wildlife including deer, elk, bears, and birds such as bald eagles and ospreys. Birdwatchers will especially appreciate this park as it has some great spots for spotting these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
While we didn’t spot any large animals (or whales, much to our kids’ dissapointment) we did find the world’s smallest hermit crab! (Which you can see above)
Nearby Attractions to Explore from Larrabee State Park
Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment in Bellingham
Located just 15 miles from Larrabee State Park is the city of Bellingham. Here you can find a variety of shops to explore including boutiques, antique stores, art galleries, and more.
You’ll also find plenty of dining options ranging from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. And for entertainment, there are theaters showing independent films as well as music venues featuring local bands.
Outdoor Recreation at Chuckanut Mountain and Lake Padden Park
If you’re looking for some outdoor recreation near Larrabee State Park then head over to Chuckanut Mountain or Lake Padden Park.
At Chuckanut Mountain, you’ll find hiking trails with stunning views of Samish Bay while at Lake Padden Park there are swimming areas and disc golf courses that make it perfect for a day trip away from the park.
Visiting the San Juan Islands
For those who want an even bigger adventure away from Larrabee State Park, consider grabbing the San Juan Ferry to one of Washington’s islands.
From whale-watching tours to kayaking around Lopez Island or simply exploring Friday Harbor on foot, these islands offer something special for everyone.
FLarrabee State Park Visitor FAQs
Do you need a Discover Pass for Larrabee State Park?
Yes, a Discover Pass is required for Larrabee State Park. The pass allows visitors to access the park and its amenities including day-use areas, trails, boat launches, and more.
It can be purchased online or at any Washington State Parks-operated location. The cost of the pass varies depending on whether it’s an annual or day pass but both provide unlimited visits to all state parks in Washington during their respective time periods.
If you’re visiting the area, it’s usually worth it to simply bite the bullet and get a pass. Pretty much everywhere you go in Washington is a state park of some kind and you’ll break even pretty quickly.
Are Campfire Allowed At Larrabee State Park?
Yes, campfires are allowed at Larrabee State Park. The park has designated fire pits and grills available for use in the camping areas.
However, you should probalby check with staff if you don’t see anyone else stoking a blazer.
Campers must also bring their own wood or charcoal and be sure to completely extinguish any fires before leaving the area. Fireworks, explosives, and open flames outside of designated areas are strictly prohibited.
How Old Is Larrabee State Park?
Larrabee was a very early park in Washington as it was established 107 years ago (in 1915).
However, it doesn’t quite earn the title for oldest state park.
The oldest park in Washington state is Mount Rainier National Park, established in 1899. Not only is it older but it also dwarfs Larrabee in size. It encompasses over 236,381 acres of land and features breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains.
With its stunning views, miles of trails, and plenty of activities to do, it’s easy to see why this park has become so popular. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an extended stay in the area, Larrabee State Park is sure to provide you with an unforgettable experience.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your hiking boots and head out on your own trip to Larrabee State Park. With miles of hiking trails, pristine beaches, and wildlife galore, it’s easy to find your own private paradise here.
But be sure to do your part and join us as we take on the challenge of preserving and protecting these precious lands so that future generations can continue to enjoy them.
Together we can make sure our beloved parks remain vibrant and healthy. See you at Larrabee!