Great Hikes Near Bellingham

Year-round hiking is plentiful in the Bellingham area. Combining the trails in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Chuckanut Mountains, North Cascades National Park, and Whatcom County, this region has hundreds of miles of trails to explore. The City of Bellingham also offers an extensive system of hiking trails through city parks and greenways, where both water and mountain views are plentiful.

Feel more comfortable going with a guide? Check out these guided hiking, forest bathing and tide-pool walks with Earth Elements and other options from Recreation Northwest.

Know Before You Go

You may need a Discover Pass on your adventures in Whatcom County! Many locations have a kiosk to purchase a pass onsite - but not every location. Plan ahead and buy one online here. When you arrive at a location requiring the pass, you will see signs.

At National Forest trailheads and the Heather Meadows area at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway, Discover Passes are not valid and instead use a pass through the Northwest Forest Pass program. Also, always be sure to check for current trail conditions.

Get to know beautiful Mt. Baker on foot. Select from a dozen remarkable hikes that allow you to experience some of the most spectacular scenery in Washington State. 

Explore the Guide

The Mt. Baker Highway is a designated “Scenic Byway” and begins at I-5 exit 253 in Bellingham. In winter, the road ends at milepost 55 at the ski area. In summer (around mid-July), the road is cleared of snow to Artist Point at milepost 58, and most trails remain snow-free through the fall. Here is a short list of popular, easy to moderate hikes in the Mt. Baker area.

For current road and trail conditions on Mt. Baker Highway view the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest alerts and conditions webpage.

Note: There is a fee to park at National Forest trailheads and the Heather Meadows area at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway under the Northwest Forest Pass program.

Hiking Near Glacier, WA

Heliotrope Ridge (5.5 miles RT)
This moderate hike offers views of glaciers along with flowers, streams and waterfalls. Usually open mid-July through October, depending on snow melt. Directions: Drive to milepost 34.3, turn right on Glacier Creek Road #39. Drive 8 miles on the narrow winding road to the trailhead. ***Trail accessibility currently effected by a road washout. Find more details here.***

Horseshoe Bend (2.4 miles RT)
Winds along the North Fork of the Nooksack River and is accessible most of the year. Directions: Park at milepost 35.4 on Mt. Baker Hwy. across from Douglas Fir Campground.

Yellow Aster Butte (7.5 miles RT)
Trail travels through parklands, rock gardens, views of summits, streams, and meadowlands. At the summit of the butte enjoy the full panorama. Directions: Drive to milepost 46.2 and turn left on Twin Lakes Road #3065. Drive 4.4 miles to parking area.

Damfino Lakes (6 miles RT) Nice hike that leads through forested slopes to open meadows by Excelsior Pass and by Damfino Lakes on the way. Directions: Highway 542 to MP 36, take Forest Road 31, drive 15 miles to the end of the road staying on main route and not forking onto any side roads.

Skyline Divide (9 miles RT)
From Bellingham follow the Mount Baker Highway (State Route 542) east for 34 miles to the Glacier Public Service Center. Continue east another 0.8 mile, turning right onto Forest Road 39 (Glacier Creek Road). Then immediately turn left onto FR 37 (signed "Skyline Trail 12"), following this rough, at times gravel road 12.8 miles to its terminus and the trailhead (elev. 4300 ft). Privy available.

Trail accessibility currently effected by a road washout. Find more details here.

Hannegan Pass (8-10 miles RT)
Climbs through avalanche slopes, forest, streams and meadows with views of Ruth Mountain. At the pass you can continue on a steep trail to the peak with views of Mt. Shuksan. Directions: At MP 46.6 turn left on Hannegan Pass Rd. (#32) and drive 5.5 miles to trail-head (stay left at a fork in the road at mile 1.5).

Hiking at Heather Meadows & Austin Pass Picnic Area 

Picture Lake (.6 mile RT / .8 km) - ADA Accessible 
This short easy trail, which is also wheelchair accessible, is not short on views. Get your camera out to get a spectacular shot of Mt. Shuksan reflecting in the lake. This spot is also great for viewing fall color. Directions: Parking is on the Mt. Baker Highway at milepost 55.

Fire and Ice Trail (.5 mile RT / .8 km)
This is a self-guided interpretive trail, and is wheelchair accessible. Several other trails also begin at this point. Directions: Park at the Heather Meadows Visitor Center at milepost 56.

Hiking at Artist Point

Artist Ridge (1.2 miles RT / 1.6 km)
This self-guided interpretive trail takes you to overlooks with great views of Mt. Baker and other peaks. Directions: trail begins at the east side of the parking lot at Artist Point.

Chain Lakes Trail (1 - 6 miles / 1.6+ km)
The first mile of this trail is nearly level, although on the side of a steep slope. It takes you to a junction with a closer view of Mt. Baker. At this point the trail splits and ambitious hikers can continue to Chains Lakes or Ptarminagn Ridge (4-5 more miles). Directions: trail begins at the south west end of the Artist Point parking lot.

Table Mountain (2.6 miles RT/ 2.4 km) - No Dogs
The first part of this hike is steep and zig zags up through lava cliffs. (Not recommended for young children). It ends at a mountain top with panoramic views. Directions: Trail begins at the northwest side of the parking lot at Artist Point.

Hiking in North Cascades National Park

The eastern half of Whatcom County is encompassed by North Cascades National Park, including the scenic Diablo Lake and Ross Lake, as well as the town of Newhalem on Highway 20. This one of the most remote and biodiverse national parks in the United States.

Ladder Creek Falls (.4 miles RT, includes stairs)
Hidden behind the Gorge Powerhouse in Newhalem, the hike to view Ladder Creek Falls was built by J.D. Ross as an attraction illuminated by electric light in the evenings to show off the beauty of the electricity generated by the powerhouse.

Discover more North Cascades hikes here

This popular trail is relatively steep and takes you to charming Fragrance Lake. There is a nice overlook at 9/10 of a mile. 

Paid parking across from the Larrabee State Park entrance. Discover pass is required. 

A network of trails begins on the Southern part of the Chuckanut Mountains and leads to this prominent viewpoint. Unique in being one of the only locations where mountains meet the Salish Sea. 

Find access to the Oyster Dome Trailhead from Chuckanut Drive, a few miles south of Larrabee State Park, and also at the Samish Overlook. 

Read more tips about these hikes and get directions here

The trail leading to this local favorite spot was renovated and completed in 2023.

Follow the tree-lined path to a new metal bridge that now offers safe passage for venturing over the traintracks. [Crossing the bridge includes going down a flight of stairs.] Offering stunning water views along the way, the trail ends right on the beach!

Parking available at Lost Lake just south of the Larrabee Park entrance.

Steep for 1.5 miles, then levels off on an abandoned railroad grade. Outstanding alpine-type lakes and vistas of Bellingham, Mt. Baker, and the San Juan islands at an overlook near the lakes.

This trail meanders along the mountain ridge and offers great views. An easy way to access it is to drive up a dirt road so you’re already at the top! From the Fairhaven District, drive south on Chuckanut Drive for about four miles. Turn left onto Highline Road (just before the fire station). This road veers left becoming Cleator Road. Drive for about three miles to the parking area. From here the trail heads north. It connects to other trails, so keep an eye on where you’re going. Also, there is a gate that is locked at dusk.

A level scenic lakeside trail snuggled tightly between Stewart Mountain and Lake Whatcom. Drive around the north end of the lake and almost to the end of North Shore Road to get to the parking lot and trailhead.

Stroll through a dense forest and past a large beaver pond. Cougars have been sighted in the area, so pay attention. Water crossings have wooden bridges. Take Lakeway Drive east from the freeway. Stay right on all the forks in the road until you see the sign for Lake Louise. Turn right on Austin Road (turns into Lake Louise Road) and follow it 1.6 miles to a small signed parking area on the left.  

A 1.5 mile trail and boardwalk meanders through a wetland marsh at Tennant Lake. Climb a viewing tower, too! A .5 mile trail connects the lake with Hovander’s “big red barn.” There are also two miles of trail running along the river dike of the Nooksack River. Take I-5 exit 262 and head west toward Ferndale on Main Street. At the railroad underpass, turn south onto Homestead Road and follow the signs.

Easy paved trail with scenic water views next to Semiahmoo Resort. Great for a family bike ride with young children or for bird watching. Venture to the other side of the spit for a beach walk. Take I-5 exit 270 and follow the signs to Semiahmoo Resort (about 9 miles).

Features 54 acres of forest, bluff and beach, with a .75 mile fully accessible trail to spectacular viewpoints of the Strait of Georgia and San Juan Islands. A switchback path descends from the bluff to access a windswept cobble beach. Take I-5 Exit 266 Grandview Road and drive west 8.5 miles then curve left on Koehn Road.

Easy walk and great trail featuring views of more than 30 species of birds. Beach and mud flats adjacent with free parking.

This waterfront park offers great views of Bellingham Bay. The flat and well-maintained South Bay Trail connects Fairhaven District to downtown Bellingham with a section of the boardwalk over water. Best access is from Boulevard Park or from downtown Fairhaven at 10th & Mill Street.

The trail skirts around one of Bellingham's serene lakes. There’s also five miles of mountain bike trails. Take I-5 exit 252 & drive southeast two miles.

Trails braid around Whatcom Creek in this woodland city park. Highlights include a waterfall and old stone bridge. The trails connect with Bloedel Donovan Park at Whatcom Lake. Take I-5 exit 253 and drive two miles east on Lakeway Drive. Or begin the Whatcom Creek Trail in Maritime Heritage Park in downtown Bellingham.  

The Interurban trail connects urban greenways throughout southern Bellingham. You can access the trail from various points in Fairhaven Village or at Fairhaven Park. It eventually connects to Arroyo Park, winding through the forest all the way to Larrabee State Park. 

A paved trail runs from Hotel Bellwether around the harbor to Zuanich Point Park. Beautiful views of the bay and boats. Enjoy nearby restaurants and ample parking.

Walk along a wooded hill adjacent to Western Washington University. Take in views of Bellingham Bay from an observation tower at the summit. You may also drive to the top of the hill and park to access the tower. I-5 exit 252, left on Bill McDonald Parkway and right on 25th Street.

Always be respectful to others and leave places better than when you came! A national coalition of land agencies and user groups has developed the following guidelines for everyone to follow to keep our public lands open.

Explore More Trails
        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.
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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