Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bellingham's Chuckanut Drive Loop


On sunny spring days, I like to take road trips. Recently, I chose to take Chuckanut Drive from Bellingham south to the Skagit Valley. You can go in either direction, but heading south gives you the best views of the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands.

Take the Cuckanut Drive (State Highway 11) exit from I-5 in Bellingham. The road passes Old Fairhaven, an interesting destination of its own with lots of quaint shops and restaurants. There is excellent signage for Highway 11. You will take a left at Fairhaven and then bear to the left again before starting on the scenic drive.


The first part of Chuckanut Drive is lined with private homes on both sides of the road. When you get six miles south of Bellingham, the road enters Larrabee State Park. Follow the signs to the Boat Launch in Wildcat Cove on the right. Parking is free, but it costs $5.00 to launch a watercraft. The gates close at dusk.

From here, there are unobstructed views of Samish Bay. There are restrooms, picnic tables and both sandy and rocky shores to explore. I could see myself launching a kayak to paddle around the surrounding headlands. I settled for some photo opportunities. Right now it is uncrowded, but I can imagine it is very different when summer arrives. There is a nearby campground that is open year-round for those who want to stay a little longer.


All along the drive there are spectacular views. This is particularly true south of Larrabee Park. Turnouts are available to stop for pictures. There is also trailhead parking for a variety of Chuckanut Mountain Trails and the Interurban Trail that runs all the way back to Fairhaven. Some trails allow mountain bikes.

On this trip, I did not stop at any restaurants along the drive. There are two well known ones, the Chuckanut Manor Seafood and Grill and The Oyster Bar. Parking is limited along the busy road and both are somewhat pricey. If you've been to either of them, maybe you can leave a comment with a review.


I continued on Chuckanut all the way to I-5 and made a loop back to my starting point in Bellingham. It was a nice spring afternoon trip. One resource I use for travels and activities in Bellingham is the Insider's Guide: Bellingham and Mount Baker. It covers just about every topic you might want. You can check it out at Amazon.com.

Do you have any favourite day trips around Bellingham? Let us know. -- Margy

12 comments :

  1. Your tour looks pretty much devoid of other folks Margy. The waterside scenes are very evocative of peace and quiet. Me I'd take a bag of food and drink and avoid the pricy eating houses.

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    1. That's the great thing about going on Chuckanut Drive in the off season. Summer is nice, but there are lots more visitors. - Margy

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  2. Fascinating views... and pretty flowers! Must be lovely to visit such places.
    Thank you for sharing!

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  3. We love the Chuckanut Drive loop - have made it many times. The views are indeed spectacular. Your photos are fabulous. One of our favorite day trips is to Birch Bay/Blaine/Semiahmoo - sometimes we make it all in one day - sometimes we split it up. Not really close to Bellingham, but close enough for day trips. Have you been to the Big Rock Garden in Bellingham? (at the top of Alabama Hill). It is just blocks from our house and we love the pathways and sculptures. This is a good time of the year to visit as the rhododendrons and the azaleas are in bloom.

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    1. Thanks for the tip about Big Rock Garden. I'll have to check it out when we are in town. - Margy

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  4. I love the way spring is popping up!

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    1. I think it's my favourite season, even though summer gives it a run for its money. - Margy

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  5. Looks like a nice drive with those spectacular views. I'd be stopping every few minutes to take photos.

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    1. There are lots of turnouts for that, but they are easiest to reach if you are driving south. No dangerous road crossings required. - Margy

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  6. I always love sea shots, but my favorite here is the rock formations.

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    1. Mine too - they are weather and water worn in such beautiful patterns. - Margy

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Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy