Friday, December 5, 2014

Chuckanut Mountains and Larrabee State Park

The Chuckanut Mountains are a low range of mountains that run down from the Cascade Range to Puget Sound, the only place where the Cascades meet the sea.  They lie just south of Bellingham and include Larrabee State Park.  They are a popular place for hiking and biking and the both Interurban trail and Chuckanut Drive, a scenic drive above Puget Sound, connect the area with the city of Bellingham.

Larrabee State Park is a wonderful place, with miles of coastline and many trails up into the Chuckanuts.  It is a good place to see various ocean creatures in the tidepools, including starfish and anemones.  It has great beaches and unusual waterworn formations of Chuckanut Sandstone with many Eocene fossils of palms and other flora immbedded in the sandstone.  It is also a great place to hunt for native orchids and we go there

The Chuckanuts are less than an hour from our home and place we often go when hiking and orchid hunting and when time is limited.  We were there a number of times this summer hiking and hunting for orchids, exploring the tidepools along sea, and looking for the palm fossils for which the Chuckanuts are famous.  Oyster Dome, a steep two mile hike up Blanchard Mountain, was the place where I trained for our Mount Baker Climb.

On one of the hikes, on the Labor Day holiday, we started late and reached the top of Oyster Dome as the sun was setting.  We witnessed a beautiful sunset but had to come down the trail in the dark and very few of us had lights, other than cell phones.  That made for a rather dangerous descent and one that will not quickly be forgotten.  I did not take any pictures on that hike except of the sunset because the light was so poor.   

I hiked the Oyster Dome trail five times in a three week period, several times alone and several times with others, though without taking a lot of pictures.  Because I was training I did the trail as quickly as possible each time and carried a 15-20 pound pack as well.  The first group of pictures are from that trail and from the brief stops for pictures and the rest from various other places in Larrabee State Park and outside of it. 

view from Oyster Dome with the San Juans, Anacortes and the Olympics in the distance

sunset from Oyster Dome

Sulfur Shelf Fungus

Scaly Pholiota

Blackening Brittlegill

trail sign

 immature Red-naped Sapsucker

Chuckanut Sandstone formations in Larrabee State Park

other photos from Larabee State Park


Hedge Morning Glory

Paper Birch seeds and Madrone bark

views from Blanchard Mountain overlook

and some orchids

Broad-leaved Helleborine
(not a native but very well-established in Larrabee)

Striped Coralroot

Western Spotted Coralroot

Note: these photos were taken at different times during the year
and a few are older photos I've not posted before.


  1. I love this park and the Drive up on Chuckanut is always a thrill.

    1. We were in the park more times than I can count last summer. After Washington Park it is our favorite place in the immediate area. You should do the drive up Blanchard Mountain sometime.


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