CHS 2 Hike - Chuckanut Mountain

Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series

CHS 2 Hike - Chuckanut Mountain

HIKE THE MADRONE CREST TRAIL! CHS hike led at a CHS 2 pace (2.0-2.5 mph)

  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 8.3 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,750 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 1,420 ft
  • Pace: 2.0-2.5 mph

830 am at the North Chuckanut Mountain Parking area.

From I-5 take exit-246. Go right on Samish Way, cross over the freeway and right again onto Lake Samish Drive which turns into Old Samish Road. At 4.59 miles turn left onto Highway-11, Chuckanut Drive, and in 0.1 miles the North Chuckanut Mountain Parking area is on the left. There is space for about thirty five vehicles. There is a porta-potty at the trail head.

Join us after the hike for lunch at The Filling Station in Bellingham.

Hiking The Madrone Crest Trail

This hike takes you through a lush area of the Chuckanuts that offers solitude and an experience of primal setting getting you away from the old logging roads turned trails that are close by. Going to the crest via the Salal trail is enhanced by thick undergrowth of Oregon grape, a variety of ferns and mosses and of course salal. The route winds through huge glacial erratics and an overstory of cedar, Douglas fir, hemlock, red maple and bigleaf maple.

The trail begins at the North Chuckanut Mountain parking lot. A short 0.1 mile jaunt will bring you to the Interurban trail. Take a left turn here. In a short few minutes pass Arroyo Falls on your right. At 0.5 miles take a right onto the Hemlock Trail and climb a bit up to the junction with California Street at 1.0 miles which continues left as the Hemlock Trail.

At 1.2 miles is a well signed junction and kiosk, aka Station-A (more on that later). Take right onto the North Lost Lake Trail and climb a bit up a logging/service road. At 1.4 miles bear left at the junction and take the Lower Salal Trail and leave the busier road type trail for a real trail. This traverses along an east facing ridge. At about 1.8 miles, if it is a clear day, Mount Baker comes into view. It is a good place to get pictures of it as the view from the crest is now obscured by young trees.

At about 2.6 miles is the Salal Trail and a sign with arrows pointing two ways. Bear left here and drop down in elevation to 2.7 miles at the junction of the Madrone Crest Trail. Go right here for a steady climb on a more exposed trail that is bursting with wildflowers in the spring and early summer. In 3.7 miles take a left at the junction to the Madrone Crest viewpoint at 3.4 miles. 

For the return trip we either retrace our way in, or take the Hemlock Trail at Station-B which is somewhat of a main thoroughfare and follow the signs back to the trailhead.

Note on Station-A: At several of the junctions there are now kiosks that have an alpha designation such as A, B, etc. These are EMS Checkpoints that improve navigation and accuracy in locating lost of injured hikers. If you take note of these points when you pass them it will give you a better sense of your location. Over the last few years the signage and kiosk maps has greatly improved.


Chuckanut Ridge & Mountain

  • USGS Bellingham South

    USGS Bow

    Trails of the Chuckanut Mountains

    Chuckanut Mountain Recreation Map
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Ten Essential Systems

  1. Navigation (map & compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
Trip Reports