Clayton Beach is just a 2/3 mile hike, each way, from the parking area, excellent for those who are looking for a little workout or families with wee ones. If you are driving Chuckanut Drive this is a great place to stretch your legs and visit an excellent beach. The trail is part of Larrabee State Park and a Discover Pass is required to park in the State Park lot, but many people just park along Chuckanut Drive without a permit.
Take the stairs to the old railroad bed of the Pacific Northwest Traction Co. This was the route that this interurban took between Fairhaven and Mount Vernon. This is the reason that it feels like you are walking on a straight old road. Just before you drop down to the BNSF tracks, you encounter a large slab of rock and loose material that appears to be the trail. Stay to the right of this steep place and you will see a very easy route down to the tracks. Immediately across the tracks you see what appears to be the ‘main route.’ It is not! Walk south along the tracks and take the NEXT little cut in the railroad bed, toward the beach.
When you get to the beach, you will notice a rock riprap levee and a long row of pilings. These are what are left from the interurban track overpass that sent the interurban car OVER the Great Northern tracks from 1911 to ~1940.
If you are interested in the geology of this area I highly recommend visiting the links below:
Click on map to left for a larger version. You see some side trails on the north side, but these generally only go to the tops of the bluffs, not to the beach.
On your way back up the hill you will pass the foundation of the Power Station that was used for the interurban. There is a photo of it on the information board near the parking lot. After you have climbed up from the BNSF tracks, on the right will be the fill that was put in place to carry the interurban track over the Great Northern tracks. A short trail takes you along this fill to the end. About 100 feet further up the trail, on the right is a short trail to the foundation site.
There is a large amount of information and stories about the days of this interurban in the Skagit River Journal.
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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