The Rock Trail is the newest addition to the Chuckanut trail system, and we have one thing to say about it: Thank you, Ken Wilcox. Spearheaded by Wilcox and, thanks largely to the work of WTA volunteers, the trail connects the Cyrus Gates Overlook with the Lost Lake trail. And like it's name implies, this trail rocks—in more ways than one.
On a clear day, driving up to the Cyrus Gates Overlook, you may wonder if it's even worth going on a hike. Believe me, it totally is. Please forgive me while I wax poetic about the trail, but it's not often that you can drive less than ten minutes from your house and find such a remarkable trail.
From the Overlook, walk to the south end of the parking lot. At the fork, go right and follow the trail through a forested area to a four-way intersection. Now the fun begins. Continue straight through this intersection and you will find a set of 100 or so stairs leading down, down, down the Rock Trail. This first section of the trail drops elevation 700 feet from Chuckanut Ridge to the bowl in which Lost Lake stretches across the eastern edge of Chuckanut Mountain. The loss of elevation is achieved by a series of zig-zagging staircases, each section of which will take you closer to a trail that hugs the side of a rock face cliff.
Budding geologists will find a haven on the Rock Trail, as the trail skirts sandstone rock walls, concave in places, with interesting cubbyholes, and dripping ferns. Continue further on the trail as it winds down through two mossy erratics—a Tolkien landscape made tangible. Continue on, and shortly thereafter meet up with the Lost Lake Trail. The largest of the Chucaknut range's lakes, Lost Lake offers fishing and picnic spots, and a waterfall along the south Lost Lake trail.
Once you’ve had your fill of the lake, head back up the Rock Trail to Cyrus Gates Overlook. From here, walk north along the Chuckanut Ridge trail to the Lost Lake viewpoint. Peering down from one of the highest points in Larrabee State Park, you’ll catch a glimpse of the long, Lost Lake below. But the real view is everything surrounding the lake. To the south, you'll be able to make out the bare face of Oyster Dome on Blanchard Mountain. Straight ahead, Lake Samish lies at the foot of Lookout Mountain, and beyond, the glaciated majesty of Mount Baker.
We hiked out to the Rock Trail just after a moderate snowfall in Bellingham. Encountering slushy-mudholes on Cleator Rd, we had to park the Jeep midway and hike an extra mile and a half or so to the Cyrus Gates Overlook. Many of the trails along the ridge boasted nearly a foot of snow, but dissipated from the trail with each set of steps down. The snow added an intrigue of the landscape, coupled with the lush green of ferns shaking powder from their fronds.
A trail as unique and accessible as this will fast become a favorite for hikers. The official dedication will be held on April 26, 2014—a culmination of over 2,000 hours from 100 volunteers to carve out another walk in the woods.
For additional information on the Rock Trail, check out the following:
Washington Trails Association
The Bellingham Herald