Bellingham and Whatcom County are blessed with an abundance of hiking trails. Here, trail users can stroll along scenic park pathways, run for miles in the mountains, and hike to soaring overlooks above the Salish Sea. These lowland trails are easily accessible year-round, and you don’t have to go far to find them. They can be accessed via foot, bike, public transit, or a short drive. From in-town trails to the Chuckanut Mountains and northern reaches of Western Whatcom County, there’s a trail for every age and ability near Bellingham.
Urban Trails: Bellingham
With so many wonderful trails to explore, it’s always helpful to have an up-to-date resource. Those seeking a Bellingham trail guide need look no further than the new book Urban Trails: Bellingham. Written by Washington hiking expert Craig Romano — author of more than a dozen outdoor recreation books — this compact guide packs 43+ urban trails into a tiny, backpack-friendly package. It’s an excellent resource for visitors and locals alike.
“Bellingham has one of the best trail systems in the state”, Craig says. Some of his favorite trails in the book include the Lake Whatcom Hertz Trail — a flat, lakeside stroll featuring covered bridges and quiet beaches — along with classic Whatcom walks at Lake Padden and Stimpson Family Nature Reserve. And “if you’ve ever wanted to walk on water,” Craig writes, “the South Bay Trail is your answer.”
Urban Trails: Bellingham is a departure from the backcountry hiking guides that Craig typically writes. As a new father, researching more accessible trails has given Craig the opportunity to bring along his young son Giovanni as an “assistant”. This focus on family-friendly trails is a big bonus for those who want to opt outside, but feel intimidated by 10-mile hikes with thousands of feet in elevation gain. You’ll find mostly easy treks in this guide, along with a few longer-and-steeper options to keep things interesting.
Case in point: Craig has included the whole Chuckanut Mountain – Larrabee State Park area in Urban Trails: Bellingham. That means everything — from a 1.2-mile walk at Clayton Beach, to the 2,000-foot, 10.8-mile roundtrip climb up Chuckanut Ridge. Craig also includes lesser-known trails near Blaine, Ferndale, and Lynden.
“I love discovering new places and sharing them with others,” Craig says. And he’s sought out some truly remarkable spots. Even after 10+ years of hiking in Whatcom County, there are several trails in Urban Hikes: Bellingham that I’ve never visited. Time to check them out!
Urban Trails Series
Urban Trails: Bellingham is part of the greater Urban Trails series available through Mountaineers Books. Each of the series’ seven books feature in-city and urban area trails, with full-color photos, maps, driving directions, public transit information, and all the trail info you could possibly need. The purpose of these books is to promote both fitness and conservation for trail users of all types: walkers, hikers, and trail runners.
A Focus on Fitness
When it comes to fitness, Craig leads by example. Dubbed “the Energizer Bunny of Northwest guidebook authors” by The Seattle Times, he is constantly on the move researching and exploring our state’s great trails. He encourages trail users to get out into their backyard parks and greenways more often, whether for an early-morning run or after-work stroll. The benefit of utilizing our urban trails is obvious: they don’t require a long drive through heavy traffic to get there, so you can get a quick workout in and be home in time for dinner.
Conservation Through Education
Craig encourages conservation through education. His books are rich with historical tidbits and ecological information — from rails-to-trails stories, to flora and fauna. He also focuses on dispersing trail users to reduce impact on popular trails like Oyster Dome. “I’ll go up to trail run Lily and Lizard Lake and there’s only a handful of people there and 200 people on the Oyster Dome,” Craig says. “And you go up on North Butte, which has really nice views, and you can be the only one up there.”
Check out Urban Trails: Bellingham next time you are seeking trail suggestions in Bellingham and Whatcom County. This handy little guide would make a great gift, and is the perfect size for stuffing stockings. For additional hiking suggestions in Whatcom County and around the state, Craig’s 100 Classic Hikes: Washington is also available through Mountaineers Books.