Monday, August 5th, 2013
Best Bets for Mountain Biking in Bellingham
Todd Elsworth

Mountain Biking in Bellingham is a year-round sport that draws people from around region and the world to its’ trails. The range of thrills varies from cruising on flat wide open paths up to big stunts and screaming downhill runs. Access to the trails are spread across town. If you’re new to biking, you may choose to start out on the City of Bellingham Greenways System. The Bellingham Trails Guide will give you a great head start to finding places for you to ride your bike.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can explore Fairhaven Park with it’s own secret labyrinth of hidden trails. The Larrabee and Fairhaven Park Trail Map shows the surrounding trails and parks. Refer to Bellingham Trails Guide (pg 17) for a general sense of where the trails go connecting Fairhaven Park to the Interurban Trail heading south. Hikers and Bikers aren’t the only ones using these routes, so keep your head up as you fly down the trail.

Fairhaven Park

One of the most popular spots to enjoy all-around outdoor recreation in Bellingham is Lake Padden Park. The area offers great beginner, intermediate and even expert mountain biking loops. Some popular local events feature the great trails like the Bellingham Traverse on September 17.  The trails are used by pedestrians, and equestrians as well. Please yield to both users when you are on a bicycle- no matter where you are this is the appropriate trail etiquette.

Padden Trails

If you want to test your mettle against the locals and others from the region, show up on Saturday, September¬†17, 2016¬†for The¬†Vital Choice¬†Bellingham Traverse- a multi-sport event celebrating the life-cycle of wild salmon. Solo, tandem and relay teams challenge themselves and one another on the rugged course running, mountain and road biking, paddling and a Team Trek to the Boundary Bay Brewery Finish Line. (The Traverse is my creation- I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s the most fun you’ll have all year.)

Traverse Mountain Bike Transition

Mountain Biking in Bellingham wouldn’t be where we are on the map without the¬†World-Famous Galbraith Mountain. To quote the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition’s website, “Galbraith mountain is a world class mountain destination located within riding distance of downtown Bellingham. Over 50 miles of singletrack that¬†winds through over 3,000 acres overlooking the city and Bellingham Bay. The mountain is accessible to all non motorized use but all of the trails are built and maintained by the WMBC”. Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

Galbraith Lookout

On a recent ride across the Ridge Trail with my friend Dave, we found a pair of binoculars in a box that had been set out for the public’s viewing pleasure. We were able to look out over our fair city and beyond Bellingham Bay. It is the intentional acts of kindness and sharing that make our trails special. After we enjoyed the view, we got back on our bikes and did some climbing that momentarily crushed my spirit. For challenging climbing followed by crazy downhill look closely at Galbraith Mountain. It’s OUT THERE if you want the challenge- up to you to find it. Trying to keep up with somebody 10 years younger helps too!

Galbraith Binoculars

Growing in popularity due to the collaborative work of the Trail Running and Mountain Biking communities, the network of trails out in Chuckanut Mountain Park are constantly expanding- thanks to the coordination of agencies, land owners and community volunteers. The result is greater connections for us all both in the trails and the user groups who benefit from the work being done. The list of trails is long and keeps growing.

Check them out for yourself and be prepared for the ride of your life:

  • Chuckanut Ridge Trail
  • Hemlock Trail
  • Huckleberry Point Trail
  • Lost Lake
  • Madrone Crest
  • Madrone / North Lost Lake Trail Connector
  • Pine & Cedar Lake
  • Raptor Ridge
  • Salal Trail
  • South Chuckanut Mountain and Blanchard Hill
  • Teddy Bear Cove

There are convenient signposts that help show you the way as you navigate through the woods.

Chuckanut Signpost

Once you’re up in the Chuckanuts you can be afforded some great views. ¬†On one outing, my friend Kurt and I chose to have a view of the islands and the Salish Sea. From left to right Orcas, Lummi, Eliza in the foreground, Portage and the Lummi Peninsula stretching across to the right. Here’s the DNR Chuckanut Mountains Map for reference on getting around. I’d recommend popping into one of the local bike shops to pick up a local map and talk to the folks in the shop. Check out Kulshan Cycles, Fairhaven Bike and Mountain Sport, Jack’s Bicycle Center, Earl’s Bike Shop or Fanatik Bike Co.

Chuckanut Lookout

These are some of my personal favorite places to ride that offer great variety for mountain biking any day of the year, with people of varied abilities. I have had the opportunity to ride my bike in many “epic” places and I believe that Bellingham has the best to offer all around.

For more ideas about fun things to do in Bellingham and Whatcom County, visit our home page.

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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.

3 Comments »

  1. This is a great and welcoming article. I’m sure many others have come across this while researching MTB in Bellingham.
    I am coming up to WA Oct. 1st and this couldn’t be more inspiring. I’m stoked to come up and get riding!

    Thanks for the in-depth review and guidance!

    Comment by Preston — September 28, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

  2. Is there any guided tour of mtb trail? I am a first timer in Bellingham.
    thanks.

    Comment by budianto lim — April 11, 2017 @ 9:14 pm

  3. Yes. March Northwest offers a variety of options: http://www.marchnorthwest.com/guiding/

    Comment by Todd Elsworth — April 12, 2017 @ 9:44 am

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