Fragrance Lake

Kim was finally free for a hike and we chose to head north.With I-5 having several lanes closed northbound through Seattle it made going south or west just too difficult. Even though we would have to contend with traffic from tulip fields visitors that seemed the least bad option. We headed north then onto Chuckanut Drive and up along the shore to Larrabee State Park. We took Cleator Road to the start of the Two Dollar Trail. The last few years I have hiked a loop from the north end of Chuckanut Mountain to Cyrus Gates Overlook, down the Rock Trail and back via Lost Lake. I tried to hike this different lop via Fragrance Lake with Gwen a month ago. That day the trail was closed due to a race with 500 runners. Now it was time to give it another go.

We arrived at the 600' trailhead at 8:32 am. We were first but another car arrived after us and those folks headed out ahead of us. We were ready to go by 8:45 am. Surprisingly, the bugs were very noticeable at the trailhead. Once we started moving they ceased to be a problem. The trail reaches Fragrance Lake in 1.7 miles. It starts with a series of switchbacks climbing the slope then level out with some ups and downs to the lake. I had not been to Fragrance Lake before. Kim had via the more used trail from Chuckanut Drive. We found a number of wildflowers in bloom on the way to the lake. Trillium were in bloom. We saw only a couple of yellow violets. Red currents were blooming. The trail is mostly in forest though there are spots where there are views out to salt water and islands.

Shortly before reaching the lake we reached a waterfall. I had heard about it from trip reports. It was even better than I expected. The falls comes down a series of large rock slabs. It goes under the trail in a culvert. The water is the outlet from Fragrance Lake. We took a break at the falls for some food and lots of photos. It only took a few minutes more to reach the lake. Nearing the lake we saw some sandstone rock walls. The Rock Trail is known for sandstone cliffs. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of sandstone around Fragrance Lake. We had a little sunshine as we headed left around the lake. There was also some skunk cabbage in bloom along the shore. we saw a number of patches of skunk cabbage on the rest of our hike.

The first hikes passed us again heading back before we reached the lake. At the lake we passed a number of groups who came up from Chuckanut Drive. We saw folks off and on the rest of the day but it was never close to being crowded. After rounding the lake we took the trail on to Fragrance Lake Road. I hoped the road would not be hard gravel. It turned out to be mostly soft dirt. Very easy on our knees. The road has been closed for some time. It is mostly enclosed by forest. We hiked it about .75 miles to reach Cleator Road again. Heading up this main road we were passed by several vehicles and a few groups of bicyclers. We reached Cyrus Gates Overlook at 11:35 am. We had hiked about 3.8 miles to the 1820' viewpoint. You can drive to the lookout and half a dozen vehicles had done so.

It was sunny but with a cold breeze. but on another layer and had lunch. Though a bit cold at the overlook, the sunshine did feel good. Our break lingered on. We spent a full hour, not leaving until 12:35 pm. Some trees are growing tall enough to block a bit of the view but it is still pretty good. It was a hazy day however, which did harm the view a bit. Now came my favorite part of the trip. The short Rock Trail drops very steeply on wooden steps to get down cliffy terrain. It then moderates and contours right below steep sandstone cliffs. In places the rock arches over the trail. Water was seeping down in spots to. The sandstone is unlike most all rocks in Washington state. Add some moss and ferns to it and it is very memorable. The trail has only been open for five years. This was my fourth consecutive spring trip there. Each year I see a few more folks. We passed half a dozen groups on the Rock Trail this day.

Along with the sandstone cliffs are a jumble of large rocks that have broken off and tumbled down the slope. Many are now covered in moss and ferns. So much to photograph. I always make very slow progress along the trail. The Rock Trail is only 1.2 miles but we took a full hour to hike down it. On each previous trip I turned left and hiked over to Lost Lake. This time we turned right to loop back to Fragrance Lake. We just kept making right turns at each junction. Near the junction we saw more skunk cabbage in bloom and a small waterfall.  The trail climbed about 350' up to the next junction. We took a hiker's advice and found a good viewpoint nearby. After than it was time to head north towards Fragrance Lake. As with most all of the route, the trail was in fine shape. More ups and downs brought us to the bottom of the Double Diamond Trail coming down from Cyrus Gates Overlook. That trail is very steep and has lots of mountain bike traffic. Just a few minutes later we were back on the Fragrance Lake Road.

It was not far to end our loop and retrace our steps back to the lake. As expected we began to see more folks as we neared the lake. Fragrance Lake draws a crowd but much of our trip did not. This time we took the left trail around the side of the lake we had not yet seen. The lake was right below and more sandstone rock was above us. We saw one father and son out fishing on the lake from a raft. Now we just had the last 1.7 miles back to the car. We were passed by a pair of bikers and that was about it. A nice smooth trail for the return. Along the way we saw a few spring beauty in bloom along with one calypso orchid. Not a huge wildflower display but quite a large variety in bloom. We made it back to the car at 4:20 pm. The drive home did have a big slowdown in Burlington and another north of Marysville. A pain but probably better than any other way back to Seattle this day.

This trip had one of my favorite features. More than three quarters of the trip was on trails I had never hiked. After 36 years of continuous hiking it is not easy to find new trails within two hours of home. These trails made for a very nice day on the trail. Work had been keeping Kim off the trail the past few months and she did great on our 9+ mile 2000' elevation gain day. The lake was great, the sandstone was outstanding, and the sunshine very much appreciated. All in all, it was a fine day for a hike.

Kim Getting Ready
Yellow Violets
Red Currant Bush
Red Currants
Views Out
Indian Plums
Base Of Falls
Top Of Falls
Middle Of Falls
Sandstone Near Lake
Fragrance Lake
Lake Reflection
Kim At Lake
Skunk Cabbage
Fragrance Lake Road
Heading Up
Cleator Road
Gates Overlook Map
Overlook View
Steep Steps
Kim Heads Down
Trail Levels Off
Rock Patterns
Looking Back
Mossy Sandstone
Mossy Boulders
Bright Green
Unusual Rock
Nearly Vertical
Headless Hiker
Trees & Blue Sky
Kim & Mossy Boulders
Shadow Ferns
Ferns On The Rocks
Bleeding Hearts
More Skunk Cabbage
Trail Junction
Road Turned To Trail
Christmas Tree
View Southwest
Ships Below
On Road/Trail
Sanstone At The Lake
Raft On Lake
Spring Beauty
More Red Currant
Tiny White Flower
Calypso Orchid
Kim At Trailhead
A Panorama Shot Of Fragrance Lake
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2018