Top 20 Seattle day trips

Larrabee State Park

Larrabee State Park

Explore a magnificent coastal park on Samish Bay in Washington State.

Larrabee State Park is 1.5 hours north of Seattle, with a breathtaking setting on Samish Bay near Bellingham along the famous 21-mile Chuckanut Drive

This is Washington State's first park, created in 1915 from a generous donation by the Larrabee family, who were wealthy industrialists and philanthropists.

Visitors come here to explore the miles of saltwater coastline, with tide-pools, gravel beaches, and unique sandstone formations etched from the cliffs.  The west facing sunsets are glorious, showcasing the very best of the Pacific Northwest. Campsites are also available.

Take the short trail to Clayton Beach, or the more challenging hiking trails through lush douglas fir forest to Fragrance Lake and Lost Lake.  Both lakes are stocked with bass and trout, and popular with fisherman.

You'll need a Discover Pass to visit Larrabee State Park, obtained from an automated pay station at the parking lot. Dogs are permitted on-leash.

5 best things to do at Larrabee State Park

1. Take the short trail down to the beach. 

Follow the signs to the main entrance to Larrabee State Park along Chuckanut Drive.  Drive past an entrance booth to a parking lot with a large lawned picnic area and an open-air stage, and from here you can take the short trail down to the beach. 

You can't miss the entrance sign to Larrabee State Park.

Take the short path down to Clayton Beach.

The path traverses lush coastal forest, passing a creek along the way.

2. Enjoy a beach day and explore the remarkable sandstone formations.

Bring a picnic and good book, and layout on the gravel surface of Clayton Beach while taking in the magnificent views.

Look out across Samish Bay to Lummi Island, past the low-lying Eliza Island.

 
The Larrabee State Park boat launch is right around the corner from here, and a great place to launch a kayak or paddleboard.  Take a scenic paddle 8-miles north up to Bellingham, past Lummi Island into Bellingham Bay.
 
 
There are beautiful sandstone formations along the beachfront at Larrabee State Park, with honeycomb weathering shaped by the elements. This sandstone is part of the Chuckanut Formation, deposited during the Eocene Epoch 55 to 35 million years ago.  See if you can discover any fossilized plants or animals in the sandstone.
 
Many of Seattle and Bellingham's buildings were constructed with sandstone from the nearby Chuckanut Quarry that operated in the late 1800's.
 
 
Explore tidepools along the waterfront at Larrabee State Park. A recreational license is needed if you intend to fish or harvest shellfish.
 
 
There's also an overlook if you don't wish to go all the way down to the beach.
 

The water is usually below 50 degrees, so too chilly for swimming.

3. Hike up to two freshwater lakes on Chuckanut Mountain at Larrabee State Park.

Request a copy of a map for a hike to either Fragrance Lake (5.5 mile roundrip) or Lost Lake (9 miles roundtrip). The trails take you through old growth forest to pristine, wilderness lakes hemmed in by evergreens. These freshwater lakes are stocked with bass and trout, and popular with fisherman (recreational license required).

Both are long, challenging hikes up Chuckanut Mountain, that should not be attempted without a map, bringing water, and consulting with a park ranger first.

4. Make a camping or picnic table reservation. 

Book a campsite at Larrabee State Park. However, get used to the sound of trains, because the Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad have regular trains scheduled that utilize this coastal route.  If you're a light sleeper, than the campsite at Larrabee State Park might not be a great option for you.

Go online to book picnic facilities, including 2 picnic shelters with electrical outlets and grills, and 8 covered tables. The 45 unsheltered tables are first come first served.

5. Explore other things to do along the 21-mile Chuckanut Drive,

Larrabee State Park is part of the stunning 21-mile coastal Chuckanut Drive, with other roadside attractions including an oyster farm, restaurants and art galleries.  It ends at the charming township of Bellingham, with a fabulous historic district, restaurants and museums.

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