Public input sought on Larrabee State Park trails

A time exposure photo of the sunset in August 2016 at Clayton Beach makes the surf appear smooth. The beach is one of several destinations along the Larrabee State Park trail system, but pedestrians must cross railroad tracks to get there.

State Parks is taking public input on trail planning at Larrabee State Park.

The park, north of Blanchard and largely in Whatcom County, is a popular destination for hiking in the Chuckanut Mountains and for beach access to Samish Bay.

Larrabee State Park has 18 miles of trails, most of which are open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, according to the park website.

About 4 miles of the trails are limited to a single use — 2.7 miles are for hiking only and 1.5 miles are for mountain biking only.

State Parks is organizing a series of workshops and is taking comments online in order to gather input on how Larrabee State Park trails are used, how trail users interact, how useful the trail maps are, how well connected the park is with neighboring county and state recreation lands, and to gain suggestions for improvements.

Public input will help guide State Parks as it works with local recreation organizations to develop a trail plan.

“We want to hear from hikers, walkers, mountain-bikers, equestrians, trail runners and anyone else interested in an even better trail system at Larrabee State Park,” State Parks Statewide Trail Coordinator Randy Kline said in a news release.

The first public workshop is set for Wednesday at the Squalicum Boathouse in Zuanich Point Park, 2600 Harbor Loop, Bellingham.

Two other workshops will be scheduled later, according to the release. State Parks will also host public meetings.

Larrabee State Park is known for its views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands, as well as its trails to Fragrance and Lost lakes.

The park is accessible from Skagit County via Chuckanut Drive.

Larrabee is Washington’s first state park. It began with a 20-acre donation from the Larrabee family in 1915.

The need for trail planning and development was identified during the development of a park management plan, which was completed in 2016.

That management plan highlights the need for easier trails for new hikers, interest in trail extensions and connections with neighboring properties such as the state forest on Blanchard Mountain, the need for a pedestrian crossing over the BNSF Railway tracks along the trail to Clayton Beach and the potential for maps at trailheads to provide park visitors with more information.

Comments can be sent by email to randy.kline@parks.wa.gov, or submitted online at parks.state.wa.us/1143/Larrabee-State-Park-Trail-Planning.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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