Fragrance Lake

For the first day of Memorial Day Weekend I was looking at rain in the mountains, rain east of the crest, and possible afternoon thundershowers. North looked best. I chose to do a trip I did for the first time last year. A hike in to Fragrance Lake then a loop up to the Cyrus Gates Overlook and down the Rock Trail. I was out the door by 7:00 am heading north. I took Chuckanut Drive around the west side of Chuckanut Mountain to the HiLine Road. From there it is less than a mile to the Two Dollar Trail parking lot. The "lot" holds three cars. More park along the side of the road. There was one car there when I arrived at 8:20 am. By 8:25 am I was on my way. It was completely overcast. Not what I expected. On the plus side it was not raining. The trail climbs then has some ups and downs as it heads to Fragrance Lake.

I was a little late for the early season wildflowers. Last year's trip was a month earlier and we saw trillium, yellow violets, and calypso orchids among others. Star flower is in bloom in many places. The other colorful flower invasive Herb Robert. I did not have to climb far to be in the clouds. The low fog hung all over the mountain. It made the forest extra dark and really brought out the green colors. All the new growth and the overcast had the colors looking overly saturated in my view screen. It was pretty impressive in person. Before reaching the lake the outlet creek drops down a big rock slab and goes under the trail in a culvert. Last April there was a lot of water in the waterfall. Not so this year. A couple switchbacks climbed up to the lake basin.

Before reaching the lake the trail goes alongside a sandstone rock wall. That sandstone would be a major feature of this trip. It is found near the lake and all along the Rock Trail farther along. I hiked the 1.7 miles to the lake in 46 minutes, arriving at 9:11 am. There were several other folks at the lake. The people parked at the Two Dollar trailhead passed me heading out while I was hiking in. Most others at the lake came up the Fragrance Lake Trail from Chuckanut Drive. I turned left at the lake and followed the trail around the lake. There was more of the crazy green coloring. The lake was in shade just like everywhere else. I found several spots around the forested lake where I had open views.  I did not stay long. Soon I was heading on. The trail continues to an old road. Just before the road is the trail down to Chuckanut Drive.

At the road I turned left heading uphill. To the right would be where I ended this loop. The old road has narrowed to a trail. It is more dirt than gravel road. With all the green ground cover and spread out tall trees the road is more like a forest trail now. I did not see a single person between the lake and the overlook. The road/trail ends up reaching the main road. The same road I drove to the Two Dollar trailhead. I had  just under a mile of gravel road to walk to reach the Cyrus Gates. Overlook. I did not have any cars pass me.

I arrived at the overlook at 10:20 am. The lot was almost full. Visibility was minimal. I could not see a thing through the clouds. I had part of my lunch and then headed down the Rock Trail. This is my favorite part of the trip. I have done the Rock Trail in different conditions but I now think that misty fog is best. The sandstone walls were darker and the green was so very colorful. I took lots of time on this part. I took a lot of photos here. I tried different exposures to try to duplicate what my eyes were seeing. It was a little frustrating. I finished the 1.2 downhill miles in 57 minutes. Not very speedy. I turned right on the South Lost Lake Trail and took it all the way to the end of my loop near Fragrance Lake. I forgot that there is a sustained uphill section. Just the thing to get the blood moving again. There is a short trail to a viewpoint. As expected there was no view. This trail was also crazy bright with shades of green. There was a theme to this hike.

I completed the loop and headed over to Fragrance Lake. Just before reaching the lake I took a left turn on the trail around the lake. It starts on a bridge with big leafed skunk cabbage on both sides. Not a trace of yellow remains. This trail is shorter as it rounds the lake. It also has a very steep sandstone wall along much of the side. I reached the outlet at 12:45 pm. I also stopped for some very nice reflection shots of the lake. The last 1.7 miles back to the car went pretty fast. There is one big steep hill to climb then mostly downhill. I did have some partial views through the trees to saltwater below. The only views out I had all day. I reached the car at 12:25 pm. There were half a dozen cars now parked along the side of the road.

I hate the afternoon drive along Chuckanut Drive. Lots of sharp blind turns, no siding, and lots of bicycles. I went around the north side of the mountain then headed over to I-5. The first day of the three day weekend provided light traffic and a fast drive home. This is a fun hike. It has the lake, a loop, the overlook viewpoint, and the Rock Trail. Lots to see. It is about 9 miles with 2000' of gain. Not a lot of gain but still enough for a good workout. It is as far from the mountains as you can go. Perfect for days when the lowlands are dry and everything else is raining. I had a fun day and was home early too.

Green Trail At Start
Green Ferns
Star Flower
More Bright Greens
Sandstone Near Lake
Fragrance Lake
Fern Covered Tree
Onto Old Road
Road Turned To Trail
Mushrooms Over Head
More Shrooms
Bleeding Hears
View from Overlook
Rock Trail Start
Very Misty Forest
Steep Stairs
Small Ferns
Misty Trail
Along Rock Wall
Looking Up
Really Colorful
Favorite Rocks
Weaving Trail
Very Vivid
Two Hikers
More Sword Ferns
Fallen Rocks
Mushroom Colony
More Colorful Shrooms
Very Nice
More Shades
Maple Leaves
Spring Beauty
More Columbine
Small Bird
On The Road Again
Hanging Ferns
More Sandstone
Fragrance Reflection
Another Reflection
More Mushrooms
Lots Of Them
Only View Of Day
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019