Monday, April 1st, 2019
3 Loop Hiking Trails at Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve

Looking for new trails to hike near Bellingham? Look no further than Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve. Home to over 8 miles of mixed-use hiking and biking trails, this up-and-coming outdoor recreation hub offers a quieter alternative to the popular Chuckanut Mountain trails. And with several miles of new trail built in 2018, you can now hike a handful of loop trails at Lookout Mountain. 

The Waterfall Trail overlook at Lookout Mountain.

Try our suggested loops below, or create your own route from the park map. Trails are clearly signed and lots of loop options exist. While these loops can be hiked in either direction, we suggest hiking them clockwise for consistency. Happy trails!

Getting There

Navigate to the Lookout Mountain Preserve Trailhead (Lake Louise Rd at Gate 9) in Sudden Valley. Whatcom Transit Authority buses stop right outside the parking lot via route 512 to Sudden Valley.

Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve Trailhead.

Trailhead Info

  • No parking pass required.
  • Restrooms are available at the trailhead.
  • Dogs are allowed and must remain on-leash. Please pick up after your pet!

Rufus Creek Trail Loop – Lake Whatcom Overlook

  • 5.7 miles roundtrip
  • 1,000 feet elevation gain
  • GPS Tracks

For a large loop workout through evergreen forest, choose the Rufus Creek Trail. Begin from the eastern end of the parking lot (to the left of the bathrooms). Take the trail southeast for an easy 0.8-mile warmup. When you come to the forest road, continue straight across it to reach a signed intersection with the Baneberry Trail at 0.9 miles. Head left up the Baneberry Trail to begin your ascent, stopping at a small waterfall along the way. This relatively steep section gains 500 feet of elevation in a mile. At 1.9 miles, reach an intersection with the Leila June Trail and stay left to continue up Baneberry Trail.

Small waterfall from the Baneberry Trail.

At 2.2 miles, hang a left to head up to the Lake Whatcom Overlook. You’ll reach a lovely bench at 2.5 miles overlooking Lake Whatcom and — on clear days — Mount Baker. While somewhat overgrown, this overlook makes for a good lunch and turnaround spot. It’s possible to continue south on the Rufus Creek Trail from here to the Cougar Ridge Trail, but Cougar Ridge is closed to hikers (open to downhill mountain bike travel only). So turnaround at the overlook to head back down the Rufus Creek Trail.

Back at the Baneberry Trail – Rufus Creek Trail junction at 2.9 miles, take a left onto the Rufus Creek Trail. The trail switchbacks down before descending gradually to another intersection with Leila June Trail at 5.3 miles. Continue down Rufus Creek Trail to the forest road, turning left on the road to complete your loop and arrive back at the parking lot.

Leila June Trail Loop

  • 2.8 miles roundtrip
  • 600 feet elevation gain
  • GPS Tracks

Leila June Trail provides a shorter alternative to the Rufus Creek Trail loop — a great option if you’re looking for a quick workout. To access this trail directly, hike south up the forest road from the parking area. At 0.25 miles turn right onto the Rufus Creek Trail and follow it a short distance to a second junction. Take a left here to head up the Baneberry Trail. Then turn right onto the Leila June Trail at 1.3 miles.

Mountain bikers riding up the Baneberry Trail.

Once you’re on the Leila June Trail, it’s nearly all downhill from here. From a high point of 1,050 feet, the trail drops 350 feet before meeting the Rufus Creek Trail at 2.2 miles. Turn right to follow the Rufus Creek Trail back to the forest road and finish the loop.

Waterfall Loop

  • 1.1 miles roundtrip
  • 200 feet elevation gain
  • GPS Tracks

Short but sweet, the Waterfall Trail takes you to a scenic cascade overlook. Make a loop out of it by hiking 0.5 miles up the forest road, then turning right at a signed junction. At the next signed junction, take a right to reach the waterfall overlook at 0.75 miles. Then continue north on the trail, meeting the forest road again at 0.9 miles. From here, it’s a quick walk back to the parking lot.

Waterfall Trail views at Lookout Mountain.

Alternatively, you can reach the waterfalls directly by hiking 0.25 miles up the forest road, turning right, then immediately turning left on the signed Waterfall Trail. Continue 0.2 miles to reach the waterfall overlook at 0.45 miles from the parking lot.

Additional trails will eventually be built at Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve. For the most up-to-date information, see Whatcom County Park & Recreation.

Also, see our Hiking page for more information about Bellingham trails.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author:

Freelance writer Brandon Fralic has called Bellingham home since 2006. He writes about the outdoors, travel, and craft beer for a variety of regional publications. Brandon co-founded Beers at the Bottom in 2013 to highlight Pacific Northwest trails and ales. His first book, Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest, was released in 2018.