OverviewChuckanut Mountain and larrabee State park are critical pieces of the Bellingham rock climbing scene. Chuckanut, its neighbor Blanchard Mountain ( part of the Chuckanut Massif and included in this page) and Larrabee combine to offer something for everyone. Rock climbers, mountain bikers, hikers, hangliders, trail-runners, fishermen, clammers, snowshoers and dogs can all enjoy what Chuckanut Mountain and the spectacular Larrabee State Park have to offer.
Rock Climbers see these crags: Boat Launch Wall, Train Tracks Crags, Governor Listor Cliff, The Bat Caves, and Clayton Beach
The Chuckanut Massif rises over 2,000 feet out of Bellingham (Samish) Bay. Long wooded ridges and forested humps lead to the mountain's multiple summits. The lookout above Pine and Cedar Lakes (1,870ft) is the highest on Chuckanut proper, followed by Raptor Ridge (1,515ft) and Madrona Crest (1,425ft). There are also numerous cliffs and bouldering spots throughout the area that provide good rock climbing opportunities. I'll add more of these spots into the route section over time, especially anything bolted, but this is really a place to be creative and explore. Most climbs are on pleasant Chuckanut sandstone but other rock forms exist here too.
Blanchard Mountain is a local name for a subsidiary peak that holds Chuckanut's tallest summit, just above Oyster Dome (2,286ft). A narrow 1,200+ft relief, the Whatcom/Skagit county border, and Oyster Creek seperate Blanchard Mt. from Chuckanut Mt. but given their close proximity they are considered by the USGS to be the same mountain.
In winter Chuckanut's upper reaches can receive several feet of snow. Most of the year the trail network is snow-free and accessible to anyone with a decent pair of running shoes. Chuckanut mountain is a great place to trail run and train for bigger mountains. Perhaps the best part Chuckanut Mountain and Larrabee State Park is that it only takes 10 minutes to drive there from Bellingham.
An interagency effort is made to manage interconnecting trails on 8,000 acres of publicly owned land. There are multiple trailheads that provide access to this area. Check the Route Section for more detailed info on pathways to the summit.
For a beautiful drive that offers a little more than your ordinary commute take Chuckanut Drive instead of I-5 between exits #231 and #250. The road winds along the west side of the mountain between Chuckanut Mountain and Samish Bay. A good sunset here is something you never forget. Also check out Mt. Erie for some good local rock climbing.
Getting ThereGOING NORTH
- Take exit #231 Chuckanut Drive (just North of Burlington)
- Head West towards the ocean, follow Chuckanut Drive.
- Take exit #250 Fairhaven parkway/Chuckanut Drive
- Head West on Fairhaven Parkway into in the town of Fairhaven
- Take a LEFT on 12th St.
- In one block take the LEFT FORK which is Chukanut Drive
Check Routes for the various hikes. SeeMap
- No parking Fees
- A Fishing License is required to fish at the lakes.
- For More Information about Larrabee State Park Click Here
Larrabee State Park is located between Anacortes and Bellingham to the west of Chuckanut Drive.
When To ClimbAll year long!
CampingOvernight stays are allowed. Campsites are available at Pine and Cedar Lakes (no permits required), Lost Lake, and a concievable in a few other spots, Check routes section for details.
Mountain ConditionsCheck the Weather Forecast
If going to Larabee State Park it may be useful to check a Tide Chart.
Geological InfoThe Chuckanut range (which includes the San Juan Islands, Blanchard Mountain, Chuckanut Mountain, Gailbraith Mountian, The Alger Alp, Lookout Mountain and others), were formed by the resulting volcanic pressure from gaps between the Juan De Fuca and North American tectonic plates. Up to see level these mountains are composed mainly of metamorphic and other volcanic rocks. The range is very old predating many of the larger cascade volcanoes. The inland moutains of the range (i.e. Chuckanut mountain) were significantly reduced in size and shaped by continental glaciers during the last ice age.
Above sea level Chuckanut Mountain is composed of two forms of rock. The majority of the mountain consists of "Chuckanut Sandstone" which is a unique blend of sandstone found only in Whatcom and Skagit counties. The sandstone is unique because of its very low shale content and trace amounts of the mineral stilpnomelane. The remainder of the mountain is composed of Glacial Marine Drift (GMD) which formed form 100,000 to 10,000 years ago. GMD was deposited as continental glaciers melted and deposited ground up rocks and soil trapped within them.
Today the Chuckanut mountains are slowly falling apart as the sandstone slides downhill at a very predictable and slow rate. Many homes built on Chuckanut drive (the west base of the mountain) are at risk if a large earthquake destabalizes the bedrock enough to cause large slides.
EcosystemChuckanut Mountain and its neighbor Blanchard Mountain are covered in mature second growth forest, with some small patches of old growth forest. During the early 19th Century nearly the entire mountain was logged and in some cases unsuccesfully mined. Logging came to a halt in the area after the owner of the land, John R. Jackson donated the property to the park service. Blanchard Mountain which still has unprotected sections was continually logged until about 50 years ago when public pressure stopped operations. Tree species include (from most prevalent to least) Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Cedar, Madrona, and Birch.
227 vertebrate species are known to inhabit Chuckanut and Blanchard mountains. Birds are most prevalent, with over 150 different bird species nesting, foraging or migrating through the property. Most are marine birds utilizing the near shore and shoreline habitats, but raptors such as bald and golden eagles, ospreys, and falcons are common. Additionally, numerous neo-tropical birds breed on or near Blanchard Mountain after their summer migration to the area. Large mammals such as cougar, black bear, coyotes, bobcats and river otter, in addition to the more common small forest species have been sighted in the area. Caves on Blanchard Mountain provide habitat for a diverse population of bats, representing all but one of the bat species known to occur in the state. The Chuckanut Range is also regionally significant for its variety of moths and butterflies, with nearly 200 species recorded.
The Chuckanut Range is home to nearly 300 species of endangered and/or protected species.