Hiking in Bellingham
Whether you want to stretch your legs, breathe some crystal clear fresh air, check out a stunning view, or just chill out in nature, Bellingham truly has a trail, park or hike for every mood, age, and fitness level! Read on to find out much more about hiking in Bellingham, just like the locals do.
HERTZ TRAIL – NORTH LAKE WHATCOM PARK
***Barbara’s favorite trail in Bellingham!***
Lake Whatcom Hertz Trail is an absolute gem of a trail, and is suited for fitness buffs, casual walkers, runners, cyclists, children, and grandparents, alike! The trail is also dog-friendly for on-leash dogs. This easy, level trail meanders along the shore of Lake Whatcom for just over 3 miles, until it dead-ends and you turn around and make your way back. You will feel that you have ventured into a lush forest wilderness, even though you are just 15 minutes from the city.
The trail sits between Stewart Mountain and Lake Whatcom. There is an interpretive kiosk at the Lakeshore, with a bathymetric map, showing the depths and elevations, and a profile of Lake Whatcom. The trail follows along the old railroad grade of decades ago, once part of the Bellingham Bay and Eastern Railroad, built in 1902. The views of Lake Whatcom and surrounding hills, an impressive waterfall, and old growth Douglas Fir trees are both exhilarating and tranquil.
The trail hugs the shore of Lake Whatcom and beach access is best at the trailhead, although making your way down the trail, the adventurous can find many lovely beach spots for picnicking, sunbathing, and swimming. You may even find a rope swing, or two! There are benches along the way to stop and take a breath and soak it all in.
At Mile 1, the trail crosses a creek with a magnificent waterfall flowing down from Stuart Mountain. The creek passes under a covered bridge and out to the lake. There is a trail that winds up the side of the waterfall, and many pools above. This is definitely a steep trail and care should be taken if venturing off the main trail. The bridge is a natural turnaround point for many, for a total 2 mile walk.
Continuing on past Mile 1, the trail gets even more beautiful and continues to change and offer up beautiful views, different perspective and viewpoints on the lake, and surprise waterfalls and streams, seemingly around each turn. There is a second covered bridge at Mile 2, and it is well worth to make it this far.
The sun makes it’s way around to shine on the trail in the afternoon, so if it is a chilly day, timing your Lake Whatcom Hertz Trail hike for mid-afternoon is ideal!
Rated one of the most magical hiking trails in Washington, Oyster Dome Trail offers jaw-dropping views of Samish Bay, the San Juan Islands, and the Skagit River Flats. Just 3 ½ miles from downtown Bellingham, this 6 ½ mile hike is well worth the effort on a clear day.
The trail is a part of the Pacific Northwest Trail. At about a mile, you reach a small viewpoint, with a nice resting bench. Half a mile later, you come across a fork in the trail: take the right to stay on the Oyster Dome trail. Another half mile brings you to another fork, this one less established. The Talus Trail goes off to the left (for climbers). Take the right and continue up.
You will pass another trail joining up with you, The Connection Trail: keep going up to your left rather than right. After a couple minutes, you’ll be at the top of Oyster Dome! Bring a lunch and camera and stay a while, soaking up the sun and views.
Directions: From Bellingham, head south down Chuckanut Drive for 11.5 miles. The Oyster Dome Trailhead will be on your left, a little ways past the Oyster Creek Inn. There is free parking along the right hand shoulder across from the trailhead. To park at the Samish Overlook, from Bellingham, head south on I-5 until the Alger exit, #240. Head west for about a mile on Lake Samish Road, then take the left on Barrel Springs Road. After about a mile, take a right onto logging road B-1000. You can also look for Blanchard Mountain Signs. Follow B-1000 up until you can take a left on B-2000. B-2000 will take you to the Samish Overlook.
The gate closes at night, so be sure to be back in time.
LAKE PADDEN RECREATION AREA
Lake Padden features an easy loop trail that goes around the lake through open and wooded areas. The loop around the lake is 2.6 miles. There is a slight elevation gain going up around the wooded area of the lake. For level walking, one can walk half the distance on the front side of the lake. For the full loop, the lake is in view at all times, and there are several benches and areas to rest along the loop. Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be leashed, except where noted.
In addition, there are moderately difficult dirt trails through the woods south and east of the lake with mostly hilly terrain for an additional 5.1 miles of trail. There is also an off-leash dog trail, accessed not far from the dog park.
There are swimming areas, docks, fishing, picnic tables, a playground, and dog park. There are several restrooms spaced out around the loop.
This is a wonderful place to go for jog, a stroll, or spend an afternoon on a blanket in the sun. Many festivals and events happen throughout the year at Lake Padden, so be sure to check the calendar for up-to-date info for your stay!
WHATCOM FALLS PARK
Whatcom Falls Park is a must for any visit to Bellingham. Directly off the main parking lot is a beautiful WPA-built stone bridge. This beautiful, mossy wonder that looks out the impressive falls, makes this a perfect destination in and of itself. To enjoy the park further, there are three and a half miles of trails through Whatcom Falls Park. Many routes wind through the forests, some overlooking the creek gorge and still pools. Some wind through open meadows, while others stay in deep forest.
There are picnic tables, restrooms, children’s playground, and many benches for rest and reflection scattered through the trails.
Connect to Bloedel Donovan Park to experience the public beach and boat launch on Lake Whatcom. Access the Railroad Trail for an additional 3 miles of interurban biking and walking trails. The possibilities are endless!
TAYLOR STREET DOCK, BOULEVARD PARK & BEYOND
Taylor Street dock is an easy walk from Fairhaven Village down the path from the Village Green area. The Chyrsalis Hotel & Spa is at the head of Taylor Street Dock.
One of the most popular trails in Whatcom County. Taylor Street Dock offers the opportunity to stroll along the boardwalk over the open waters of Bellingham Bay. It’s a wonderful way to experience an excellent slice of what Bellingham has to offer. There are benches along the way to grab a seat and soak in the views.
The boardwalk/pier leads directly into Boulevard Park where you will find a delightful Wood’s Cofffee Shop perched on the waterfront. This is a great place to grab a cup of joe to go or sit and enjoy a latte or snack while relaxing in the comfort of the cozy surroundings. The views of the Bellingham Bay and beyond from within and outside (next to the outdoor fireplace) are astounding.
Boulevard Park boasts a beautiful grassy area, benches, a beach, a brand Pirate Ship playground for kids, and a concert stage for bands and performances.
If you continue on through Boulevard Park, you will connect to the South Bay Trail, which is a 1.5 mile trail that leads along Bellingham Bay right into the heart of downtown Bellingham! You can literally walk or bike from Fairhaven to the Bellingham Farmer’s Market and all that downtown Bellingham has to offer.
What are your favorite Bellingham hikes?