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Lauren Kramer | 06/29/2020 | Adventure - Outdoors, Insider Blogs |   

Socially Distant and Uplifting Walks in Whatcom County

Bellingham and Whatcom County are home to world-class hiking, running, and mountain biking trails. Of course, many of these trails (like Oyster Dome) are popular and can get quite crowded on sunny weekends. If you’re looking to escape into nature for some solitude, we’ve got you covered. Here are our tips on how and where to find crowd-free trails in Whatcom County. 

Semiahmoo Spit

With a long stretch of isolated beach, Semiahmoo Spit is a perfect place to spend a few hours and stretch your legs. Head to the spit at low tide and walk the tidal flats in search of pansy shells, the skeletons of the many sea urchins that congregate on this shore. Dried pansy shells make a fun craft project on a rainy day, and gently handled (they’re fairly fragile), they can easily make it home, endure a bleach bath and dry out for your next moment of creativity. 

You don’t need to be a seasoned ornithologist to appreciate the birdlife on the spit. Bring a notebook and tally the diversity of birds you’ll spot near the shore. A prime birdwatching location listed as one of the 15 hotspots in the county by the North Cascades Audubon Society, the spit is visited by eagles, loons, sea ducks, dabbling and diving ducks, grebes, loons, gulls and many other varieties of birds this time of year. Chances are you won’t even need binoculars to see them!

The spit is also a perfect locale for a long beach walk. Bring some solid sneakers as the rocky shores can be hard on the feet and ankles, and feel the wind in your hair as you watch the whitecaps on the water.

Birch Bay Beaches

The saltwater shoreline of Birch Bay is another good option for a peaceful beach walk, particularly at low tide, when the tidal flats are exposed for miles. Boasting panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains and Canadian Gulf Islands on a clear day, the beach extends for miles. That means intrepid walkers prepared to brave the rocky shore can pick their way along the beach for hours, stopping along the way to search for purple starfish beneath the large boulders and Dungeness crabs in the shallows. Keep an eye out for the bald eagles and ospreys that frequent the area, as well as the large concentrations of scoters, loons, gulls, murres and other species that come to feed on herring roe. 

If you’re keen on a long, isolated walk and prefer not to retrace your steps home, we recommend leaving one vehicle in the parking lot of the Point of Whitehorn Marine Reserve and driving a second vehicle to Birch Bay State Park to begin your walk.

Approximately three miles southwest of your starting point you can leave the beach and head up a ¾-mile switchback trail through the marine reserve’s bluff and forest to the parking lot on Blaine’s Koehn road. Given the rocky terrain on the beach, the potential for wind and the many sightseeing stops you’ll make along the way, there’s a good chance you’ll be grateful to drive home rather than literally retracing your steps to your point of origin!

Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990

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