Monday, October 30th, 2017
Exploring the Hidden Treasures in Whatcom Falls Park
Todd Elsworth

There is something for everyone to do in Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham.

The views and vibrant colors of Whatcom Falls Park never get old. Photo by Emily Wheeler

I chose to ride my mountain bike to explore the hidden trails. I started at the south end of the park, with access to the trails from Woburn Street, on the south side of the creek. The short climb to get up to the relatively flatter part of the park parallels Bayview Cemetery. While not marked on the map, there are some smaller trails to the north of The Waterline Trail that weave through the forest. This was the beginning of my journey into the unknown.

whatcomfallsmap

Download Whatcom Falls Park Map (PDF)

I discovered great walking/hiking trails that are well used, but not maintained in a way that allows for bikes. Plenty of blown down trees and other natural obstacles forced me to walk my bike as I navigated my way through the woods, greeting people out walking their dogs on a glorious evening in Bellingham.

The trails on the opposite side of the creek feature overlook with signage about the effects of the 1999 pipeline explosion and fire that engulfed the creek and the process of regeneration the area is now experiencing. This open space affords a view down into the creek bed.

The colors around Whatcom Falls are always lush and green. Photo by Chris Well

The serenity of the woods complemented by the rushing water in the creek below makes for an enjoyable stroll through this section of the 241 acres that make up the park. I wanted a different perspective on the falls so I clambered down the hillside and stuck my head out through some branches to have a look up the creek- where the burned trees looked like toothpicks stuck in the ground, with their lack of branches and needles.

The trails scattered throughout Whatcom Falls park are lined with beautiful views. Photo by Todd Eddison

The trails crisscross the park and enable you to see different aspects in a relatively short amount of time- especially if you’re on a bike. (Mind you, this is not a place to go mountain biking per se. It is a busy park and bombing through on a bike is not cool. If you want thrills too, go up to Galbraith Mountain.)

The Waterline Trail crosses over Whatcom Creek and meets up with other trails on the opposite side. I took a left and went down to “The Whirlpool”. When the weather is warm, people flock to this popular swimming hole to cool off and show their bravado by jumping off the cliffs on either side.

The view of the falls is always mesmerizing. Photo by Reilly Kintzele

Heading up the creek, you’ll encounter more people as you get closer to the main parking area of Whatcom Falls Park. Instead of crossing over the iconic Chuckanut Sandstone bridge that most people equate with the park, I chose to stay left and continue my journey up the creek.  Below the Trout rearing pond is a small set of waterfalls that is accessible from both sides of the creek. This view is from the west side of the creek, just above the bridge. I found this to be a nice spot to soak in the sights and sounds of the “noisy” creek.

Whatcom Falls Park is where you can see the water and the trees meet, and it’s conveniently located in town. Photo by Tabitha Vera

Continuing on my journey, I wanted to glean a different perspective of the dilapidated railroad trestle that I’d been under plenty of times on the other side of the creek. I wanted to see what it looked like from above. Those tracks sure look like they have a story to tell.

There are SO many hidden treasures at Whatcom Falls Park. Photo by Emily Wheeler

Whatcom Falls Park offers so many hidden treasures. I was simply out on an evening ride and the park was filled with families walking their dogs and getting out for a breath of fresh air. There is an off-leash dog area in the south end of the park that is very popular. The labyrinth of trails are great for bike riding, trail running and strolling. I hope you get out there and do some exploring on your own.

For more information check out Whatcom Falls Park.

For more ideas about fun things to do in Bellingham, visit our hiking page.

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About the Author:

As the Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse and co-founder of Kulshan Quest Adventure Race, 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.

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