October 27, 2022

Meryl Lassen
Washington State Parks

New Overpass Bridge Will Connect Clayton Beach and Larrabee State Park

Clayton Beach access trail closes Nov. 1 until spring of 2023

Larrabee State Park is getting an exciting renovation this winter that will significantly improve safety and access to Clayton Beach. 

State Parks is building a new bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad track, which, supported by a new trail reconfiguration, will provide safe passage between this popular beach and the Lost Lake parking lot. 

Construction is set to begin Nov. 1. For public safety, park staff will close access between the parking lot and the beach on Nov. 1. The trail will remain closed until the work is finished in summer of 2023.

Larrabee State Park, Washington’s first state park, opened in 1915 and is a popular destination for outdoor recreationists near Bellingham. It is renowned for its hiking and biking trails, lakes, streams, marine shoreline and breathtaking views of the San Juan Islands. 

For decades, visitors have crossed the railroad tracks near a series of turns in the railway, creating safety hazards due to limited sight distance. In addition, beachgoers have had to use steep trails down to the tracks. As part of the work, this existing trail will be formally decommissioned with fencing near the railway. The trail will be replanted and returned to natural conditions.

“This (project) is in line with our agency’s mission and goals to protect the natural and cultural resources in this special area,” Ranger and Area Manager Amber Forest said.

Other new features will include a half mile of new trail, two boardwalks and a new bridge over a stream – all located between the railway overpass bridge and the Lost Lake parking lot. The boardwalks will protect wetland buffers, thus preserving plant life, soil integrity and hydrology. Together, these changes will create safe access to Clayton Beach.

The construction process involves “launching,” or pushing the bridge over and above the railway from one side to the other with the help of heavy equipment and temporary stays. Next year, a permanent stair tower will be constructed on the west side of the railway. The span will be high enough for trains to pass underneath.

The project has been years in the making, with close coordination between Washington State Parks, Washington State Recreation Conservation Office (RCO), Puget Sound Energy, the BNSF Railway Company, Whatcom and Skagit Counties, Washington Department of Transportation and other proponents. The project received funding from an RCO grant and the State Parks Capital Program.

About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. 


        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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