The Rock Trail is the newest addition to the extensive trail system at Larrabee State Park. Just over a mile one-way, it drops down from Chuckanut Ridge to the South Lost Lake Trail, and it can be used as a connector path for extended loops as well as an extraordinary stand-alone hike. The project was completed by over 100 volunteers who put in more than 2,000 hours of work. It journeys through an exotic forest, passing beneath massive slabs of “Chuckanut Sandstone.”
The trailhead at the Cyrus Gates Overlook is a worthy destination in itself, sitting just 120 feet below the highest point in Larrabee State Park. An spectacular westward view over the treetops looks out to Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands.
Head off by traveling over the top of of Chuckanut Ridge through a mature forest of western hemlock. Without warning, the route drops down a series of wooden steps into a ravine, clearly indicating why stock and bikes are prohibited. Within a half mile, you’ll be gazing up at the trail’s namesake: 100-foot high sandstone cliffs that have been weathered and warped into spectacles of bewildering beauty. A closer look will reveal thin lines and multiple layers of rock within the walls. These were created over 50 million years ago during a subtropical age by streams flowing from the Rocky Mountains to the sea (of course, the Cascade Range was not standing in the way at the time).
The bottom half of the trail is littered with truck-sized boulders and licorice ferns. Soaring bigleaf maple and red alder form a thin canopy above, bringing ample light and vivid color to mosses and foliage. Just after crossing “Bogaard’s Bridge,” a clear day will yield some great views of the Twin Sisters and Mount Baker to the east. Two tight switchbacks and some final sets of stairs lead to a junction with the South Lost Lake Trail. From here, it’s just a mile further to the north shore.