Hike to Pine & Cedar Lakes

5 miles 1400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Katrina Dank

Just outside of Bellingham, this trail provides a great thigh burn with a refreshing payoff at the end of two beautiful Northwest lakes. The perfect afternoon hike for any skill level of hiker.

These two quaint lakes in the Chuckanuts are a must-do for people looking for a day hike, short camping trip or steep trail run in the Bellingham area. Starting at the trailhead off of Old Samish Road, one begins the 2 mile ascent to the two lakes. The first 1,400ft climb has its fair share of uphills protected by a shady canopy of evergreen for sunny days. Although the initial hill may seem never-ending, the trail begins to wind and gradually flatten out.

After 1.6 miles one arrives at the first signed junction. Here they have the opportunity to choose which direction to continue. One of the unique aspects of this hike is the cluster of alluring destinations all in such a close vicinity. For the more adventurous, the path to the right leads to Raptor Ridge and a network of connecting trails including Lost Lake, Fragrance Lake and Larrabee State Park. To the left one continues on the Hemlock trail to the lakes.

Once on the Hemlock trail, the first path branching off can be found to the left. After 0.8 miles it leads to a rocky viewpoint which overlooks a valley of trees, rolling hills and possibly on a clear day Mt. Baker. This is also an indirect and slightly longer approach to Cedar Lake.

As one continues on the main path they will find the final lake turnoff. To the left, after a short 0.2 mile trek one finds themselves at the lovely Cedar lake. There are a couple main access points and with a bit of bushwhacking it is possible to circumnavigate the lake and enjoy the pristine beauty from all sides. The other option, of course, is to Pine Lake. The 0.4 mile trail to is well worth the payoff of the equally beautiful forest wonderland.

Although both undeniably beautiful, the further Pine lake is a personal favorite due to its little island. There is a short and sometimes slightly submerged network of boardwalks which offer a dry path to the lovely central paradise surrounded by water, wetlands and wildlife. Here there exists one of the three available camp sites. It's the perfect place for a refreshing swim, fishing stop, or picnic lunch. For those wishing to camp here it is important to respect the no fire rule and take food precautions due to the occasional bear and coyote sightings. Accommodations even include a primitive and very hard-to-find outhouse at each lake. All these aspects contribute to the perfect place for a quick city getaway.

After an afternoon or full night of adventure one can hike out on the trail they hiked in on. Don't forget to pack out what you brought in and take time to appreciate this PNW beauty :)

Driving Directions (Courtesy of WTA):Follow I-5 south from Bellingham and get off on exit 250. Follow Old Fairhaven Parkway/SR 11 west 0.1 miles to 30th St. Turn left on 30th St and, after about a mile, left onto Old Samish Rd. Drive 1.3 miles to the trailhead parking lot on the right.

If you're coming from the south, take I-5 north to exit 246. Turn left, crossing over the freeway and then make a right on the Old Samish Road. Drive three miles to the trailhead parking sign on the left.

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Swimming Hole


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Overall rating: 

An Amazing Afternoon Hike!

I hit this trail on a Monday afternoon and had the entire place to myself. It's a hearty climb for the first 1.2 miles, but well worth the serenity of the lakes and wilderness at the end. There were a few great camping spots at Cedar Lake. I didn't make it to the other lake.

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