Pine and Cedar Lakes is not for the unseasoned hiker. The steep ascent, a quick 1600 foot elevation gain in little less than two miles, put my winter legs to work today. I like to use this hike as a conditioning exercise for longer expeditions and to prepare for my season of summer hiking. My planning and dreaming of summer hiking accomplishments have kept steady pace with the weather that seems to be heating up by about a degree each day, or so I like to think. But just because I am fantasizing about trips to Zion, Moab and Banff, doesn’t mean I am prepared to tackle them.
So this morning, I stumbled out of bed and kicked it into a gear with stiff cup of coffee and some protein. The snow flurries outside motivated. Pine and Cedar Lakes are beautiful in the snow. The ascent is brutal, for a bit, at least until you shift into a comfortable rest-step rhythm. Last time I was up on this side of Chuckanut, I was forraging for Chantrelles, so it was nice to enjoy the forest this time rather than to disturb the quiet with my loud bushwacking techniques. See a short preview of the trail below.
If you have time, you can branch off and take the Raptor Ridge trail to get a fabulous view of the Chuckanut Mountains. I unfortunately did not have time for this today. Late, having dallied longer than I intended, I loped most of the 2 mile descent down to the parking lot. Given my strong propensity to mishaps, scrapes and falls, I was apprehensive about the descent at first, snow and a bit of ice having covered the trail. Happily, I made it down unscathed.
To access the trailhead, from I-5 in Bellingham, take the Fairhaven exit and go west. Turn left onto 12th Street and follow the Chuckanut Drive (SR 11 ) and go south 1.3 miles and turn left on Old Samish Hwy. The trailhead will be on the right in about 2 miles.