A Little Larrabee State Park Adventure

Chuckanut Drive is not only beautiful but it is home to a fun place called Larrabee State Park. The kids and I made two stops here last week on our drive up Chuckanut Drive. We first stopped at the South end parking lot and crossed Chuckanut Drive to access the trail for Clayton Beach. It’s a short walk to the beach, probably no more than half a mile. Along the trail to the beach we found a little water fall.

Larrabee State Park Waterfall

Following the stream toward the beach the kids found a giant rope swing. Obviously this is not one you jump off of into the water. The kids had to check it out and make sure it was safe to use. If you do come to this park and this swing is still up, use it at your own risk. I advise against hanging on it upside down or letting go. I saw no warranty or guarantee paperwork laying around stating it would not fail. So bottom line is you are responsible for you and your kids, if you hurt yourself it’s on you buddy.

Larrabee State Park Rope Swing

Alas, for us no one was hurt and everyone was happy on this swing! It was a good find!

Larrabee State Park Rope Swing 2

We didn’t explore all the little trails on the bluffs at this beach but we did hang out for a little while and enjoy ourselves before heading back up.

Larrabee State Park Bluff 1

Larrabee State Park bluff

Next stop was at the main Larrabee State Park entrance where you will also find the campground. We walked past a large group of people who were having a nature talk with some Rangers and headed to the beach.

Larrabee State Park

This is a rocky beach where I found herds of purple starfish last year (see that post here). No starfish this time, but there was still plenty of fun to be had.

Larrabee State Park Beach 1

Beach exploring is always fun!

Larrabee State Park Beach 2

We found crabs!

Larrabee State Park Beach 3

The weather worn trees and bluffs at this park are beautiful. The kids climb just about anything so this park kept them busy and on the move.

Larrabee State Park Beach Pose

 

Larrabee State Park Beach Climbing

We ended up spending a fair amount of time exploring the beaches here and really enjoyed ourselves. No matter how many times I take my kids out and about it never gets dull. Even though many times they complain and whine about not wanting to go, ninety-nine percent of the time they love it.

Plan or no plan, it doesn’t matter. Just get out, grab the kids, family, friends or go by yourself. Take your time and stop to explore! The fun is waiting for you!

Adventure Date: April 7, 2014

-Ken

 

Chuckanut Drive

When you don’t have Saturdays off and the rest of your family does it is sad. That’s my lot in life for now, but it gives me Mondays off and every so often there is a teacher work day on a Monday and I get to spend the day with my kids. My wife however being a teacher has to work, thus it’s bitter sweet. The best adventures are when the whole family is together, but we take what we can get! This last Monday was one of these days.

My silly kids have really been giving me grief lately over hiking. I pointed out to them that they have only been on three so called hikes this year ranging from one to three miles! Hikes aren’t the only complaint. All I have to do is say, “we are going on an adventure” and they just about drop dead on the spot! Levi is the easiest to get onto my side. This time he said, “Yeah I’ll go, cause I will probably end up liking it. I always do.” Well then why complain little man? Leah can be more of a grumbler so I chose a drive up Chuckanut Drive with a few stops for exploring. I told her sometimes she could stay in the car. So off we went with high hopes of fun times.

After having a fun time visiting the daffodils I wanted to to check to see how the tulips in Skagit Valley were doing. Leah was game so we made a quick stop. The kids chose to sit in the car while I took a couple pictures.

Tulips Baker and Reflection

I drove around till I found this field that had a view of Mt Baker in the background. Perfect spot!

Skagit Valley Tulips and a barn

It wasn’t long till I heard wild sounds coming from the adventure mobile. I could see Levi in the drivers side, hands on the window acting like a caged animal longing to be freed while making sad yet wild crying sounds. Thinking I locked them in the car they became restless. I told them the car is not locked and they can get out. They shot out of the car and went straight to a tree in front of the car. I think the fun times were starting for them.

Kids in a tree and tulips

After getting the monkeys back in the car we soon were on Chuckanut Drive and the kids swapped memories of Oyster Dome as we drove past the trailhead. I told the kids no big hike so we passed the trail and stopped at a view point. Leah stayed in the car while Levi and I checked it out.

Chuckanut Drive Overlook

Chuckanut Drive View Point

Stopping at the next view point once again Leah waited in the car while Levi and I explored. We soon found a trail that got the boy begging to go down. It was steep, slick and had countless ropes leading you from tree to tree down the bluff to the beach below. I told him we couldn’t leave Leah and he disappeared to fetch his sister. One look at the trail from Leah and she also was begging to go down. I had to laugh a little at these little rascals of mine. Then down we went.

Chuckanut Drive Rope Trail 3

Once down at the bottom we scoped out he train tracks and the beach. Before we crossed the tracks a man came down the trail behind us. I asked him if the beach was public he said it was and he had been coming there for years. He said the railroad doesn’t really like it when people cross the tracks, but it’s the only way to the beach. Then in a quieter tone he told me the beach was a “clothing optional” beach. “Oh, well thanks for the the info bud. I guess we’ll be going right back up.” I told him with a smile. When the kids started asking questions I directed them up the trail and told them I would tell them later.

Chuckanut Drive Clothing Optional Beach

So back up we went!

Chuckanut Drive Rope Trail 1

Chuckanut Drive Rope Trail 2

After this we made two more stops, both at Larrabee State Park which I will have to cover in another post. I of course would have loved to take the kids on some glorious all day hike. We had perfect weather for it after all. However, this adventure turned out to be one for the memory bank anyway. Both kids want to go back to the little trail and show their mother, even though the clothing optional beach is at the bottom. No beach needed, the trail is fun by itself!

I really enjoyed this day and had fun connecting with my kids in activity and in conversation. Now that my daughter is old enough to sit in the front passenger seat we talk more. Getting outside of the house and away from all the household distractions is so good for us.

Adventure Date: April 7, 2014

-Ken

 

Oyster Dome

Our first visit to Oyster Dome was in 2012 and Levi still talks about it as one of his favorite local hikes. This time I went by myself and as I dropped Levi off for school he asked if he could come with me. Maybe that’s something I need to plan with him one of these days. Anyway, Oyster Dome is a fun 6.5 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of around 1900 feet. The trail is completely wooded, but as long as the skies are clear there will be a view up at the top.

Oyster Dome Lighted Trail

I was walked the trail I heard a small munching sound. I glanced up and saw this little guy chewing on a pine-cone. What a cutie, just sitting back and lounging in his living room!

Oyster Dome Critter

There are several small creek crossings that are easy to navigate.

Oyster Dome Small Falls

Near the top where the trail splits you have to hop a stream. Just down stream from the crossing and off trail is this cool little waterfall hiding in the shadows. I love little spots like this! They seem to draw me in with a quite curiosity. As I sat taking a few pictures, I watched some hikers go by most likely they did not see these falls. Then I wondered what animals come by this precious spot. Do they appreciate the beauty?

Oyster Dome Waterfall

The last time I was at the view point on Oyster Dome there was only a view of clouds. Nothing in sight. This time I had a fairly clear day and even some of the Olympics were showing.

Oyster Dome View

Looking down off the edge you can see large boulders amid the trees at the base of the cliff. The large flat stone with the crack reminds me of the book The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. A word of warning in regards to taking pictures off of cliffs. If you use a camera where you look through a view finder, think twice if you near the edge. It could cause you to loose your balance and tumble to your death. Always uses caution and stay alive!

Oyster Dome Cracked Rock

Looking out over the San Juan Islands is always a treat. From this vantage point you do have some industrial smoke stacks spewing smoke in large quantities right in the middle of your view. For your viewing pleasure I did not include the smoke monsters in the pictures below. Enjoy the view, get inspired and head out your front door!

Oyster Dome Olympic View

Oyster Dome Views

Oyster Dome Islands and Olympics

Oyster Dome San Jauns View

Something I keep trying to put together, but doesn’t seem to happen is a sunset hike. Last summer my family and I did one on the fourth of July and it was great. (See that post here) I would love to do it again and keep thinking of this place. I think wherever it is, it should happen. If you have done any sunset hikes and would like to recommend one I would love to hear from you.

Adventure Date: March 31, 2014

-Ken

Trail Running at Saint Edward State Park

Last October I took my family to check out Saint Edward State Park. (You can see that trip here) While we had a good visit, we somehow missed the Grotto! So when I came back to the park for a trail run, I had to check out the Grotto. I mean really, just the word by itself is cool and very adventurous sounding!

The Grotto can be rented out for special occasions, and would be a pretty neat setting. It has a very peaceful feel to it, almost magical. As I softly and slowly made my way around, the nearby bushes and trees were full of sounds of small birds and squirrels busily tending to their daily routines. This turned out to be a theme to my visit this day.

Saint Edwards State Park-Grotto 2

Saint Edwards State Park-Grotto

The Grotto is located behind the Old Seminary building, just cross the field to it’s farthest point and you will find it on the other side of a small wooden fence. The Seminary building itself is pretty sweet. I took pictures of it last time as well, but couldn’t help taking more.

Saint Edwards State Park 2

Saint Edwards State Park 1

After visiting the Grotto I ran a loop around the park that was just shy of 4 miles on my MapMyRun app on my phone. There are some maps available in the Ranger Station, but I found that if I just stayed to my right as I ran counter-clockwise, then I would end up back where I started. The trail was mostly dry with a few muddy spots that were easily avoided. However, after a few days of rain a friend of mine reported some heavy mud!

Saint Edwards State Park Trail 1

With the sun out the leaves were screaming “SPRING IS HERE”!

Saint Edwards State Park Trail 2

After my run I walked back down to the beach using a different trail. I climbed out onto some rocks and drank some water and ate a snack. It was so peaceful I could have sat there much longer.

Saint Edwards State Park Beach

Near the beach I found this cool tree I had missed on my prior visit. As you can see the hole is much larger than my backpack. Thinking of the book and movie, “My Side Of The Mountain”, I had to go inside. It was large enough for me to be in fairly comfortably. If you visit the park with kids and make it to the beach have them look for this cool tree. They will love natures fort!

Saint Edwards State Park Hollow Tree

Along the shore the afternoon sun was warming me as I walked along. There were several trail runners out and many others walking the trails, but it was in no way crowded.

Saint Edwards State Park Trail 3

Saint Edwards State Park Trail 4

Lastly on my way back to my car I came across this small Smurf Village. I try to look for the small beauty whenever I am out and about as well as the big stuff. Sometimes I feel like I am always caught up with looking at the mountains, rivers, lakes or trees that I worry I will miss the smaller things. So when I do notice things like this I enjoy them even more.

Saint Edwards State Park Smurf Town

So even though I have been to the park before, this visit was quite different and I had great fun. I am so grateful for this park and all the others we have. We are really blessed with the wonderful parks around us in Washington State. I hope I get a chance to enjoy all of them in one way or another and I hope you do too!

Adventure Date: March 24, 2014

-Ken