Riding through beautiful old forests and rocky canyons, the Clayton Beach Trail is not just another bike path—it's a rite of passage for every serious mountain biker. Nestled in Bellingham, Washington, this very difficult point-to-point trail is a scenic rollercoaster that will both challenge and reward you.
Starting across the highway from the North Chuckanut Mtn Trailhead parking area, be prepared for a strenuous start. A Forest Service road, clearly signed, takes you uphill. Grab a higher gear and settle in for a slow 3-mile climb through enchanting old forests. Milestones to look out for:
Upon cresting the ridge, you'll find a singletrack diverging south—known as Lost Lizard Trail. The path is significantly overgrown, hovering high above the lake. Rainy weather can make this stretch slick and challenging, so exercise caution.
After about 5.5 miles, you begin a descent on a decent singletrack through a slight canyon, complete with fascinating rock walls. At 6.5 miles, the trail broadens into a doubletrack and passes several well-signed intersections. Stick to the main trail for the simplest route, though explorers may venture onto branching paths by consulting trailhead (TH) maps.
When the trail comes to a T at about 8 miles, take a left onto Hemlock Trail. After a Y-junction near a house, steer right and brace for a thrilling half-mile full of steep drops, switchbacks, and small leaps. This will ultimately lead you to Interurban Trail. Take a left here, and a final switchback to the right will guide you back to the parking area. For those craving more, continuing on the Interurban Trail adds another 4 miles back to the Clayton Beach Trailhead, making it a 13-mile loop.
To reach the trailhead, take I-5 exit #250 west on Fairhaven Dr, also known as State Highway 11, and follow the signs to Larrabee State Park. The North Chuckanut Mtn Trailhead parking area is 1.5 miles along, situated between Old Samish Rd & California Dr. Another option is to continue 4 miles into Larrabee State Park; the Clayton Beach trailhead is about a mile past the campground on the left.
The Clayton Beach Trail is an adrenaline-packed course through some of Washington's most mesmerizing landscapes. It's tough, but for those who conquer it, the experience is nothing short of exhilarating.