Mountain biking has taken over Bellingham! You and your kids can too. It’s not just the adults out having fun riding mountain bikes these days.
Kids of all ages enjoy the bounty of manicured trails that wind through our fair city. Whether you are a Bellinghamster, or just in town for a couple days – get out and taste of what is Washington State’s top mountain bike destination. It’s a good idea to get out and check it out ahead of time – so you know what you’re getting your kids into.
Maps of Galbraith
Beyond our intricate Greenway trail system, we are also blessed with the famed Galbraith Mountain – aka “Galby.” Here’s a slice of one local map. You can purchase the Bellingham Parks map at these local stores: Village Books, Yeager’s, Bay to Baker Trading Co., Community Food Coop, Kona Bike Shop, Fanatik, LFS, Fairhaven Runners and BBay Running or online at Square One Maps.com.
The Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition also has two options for maps of Galbraith. You can purchase a waterproof paper map at Galbraith Printed Map. You can also download their interactive PDF map that works with your phone GPS to show you exactly where you are on the map, purchase the map at Galbraith PDF Map. A portion of the map sales goes directly to the WMBC to help maintain and build new trails on Galbraith.
It’s important to note that the mountain is currently owned by a private landowner so we are guests on the mountain. The WMBC has over 30 years of history stewarding the mountain to keep it open and growing while working with various landowners. Access to the mountain is never guaranteed but current and past landowners have been favorable to working with the WMBC to allow trail access. Basically, you and your family must be very careful while riding on the mountain and ride at your own risk.
Galbraith trails for kids
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, according to Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC.) WMBC is the local steward that builds and maintains the trails of Galbraith Mountain, which also has a strong youth involvement in the sport of mountain biking through mentorship.
“For getting kids biking on Galbraith, my go-to route is the Pipeline Road for about a half mile and you can either turn left on Bunny Trails or right on Br’er Rabbit,” said WMBC Trail Director Eric Brown. “Bunny Trails will take you into several loops including Kaya, Ursa Major and Little Dipper. The end of this route is on New Issues, where you take a right on the road back to the car.”
Br’er Rabbit will give you a three-loop combination that can be done with Cowbell, Mole Trap, and Lost Giants. If your kids are older or more experienced riders, a good variation on that loop is to turn onto Lone Wolf. Go across the bridge and take the slight uphill until you hit the road. From there, go right on the road and then you’ll take a right and descend down Dogpatch to Last Call and then back to the car.
I got my daughter’s gaggle of giggling girlfriends together for our inaugural ride of the spring. They are in 4th grade and have been riding up here for the past two years. This is the big step for beginner bikers. And a true feather in the cap (or helmet) is displayed, for those who experience the thrills of the hills.
How to access Galbraith
We access the Galbraith Mountain bike trails from the south entrance off of Samish Way, from a parking lot across the street from Galbraith Lane road. The estimated address is 5090 S. Samish Way if you want a reference point. You can park here or at the Lake Padden parking area near the dog park.
You can access the trail from riding up to Galbraith Lane, then onto the Pipeline Road.
Once we got past the yellow entrance gate and had our first few minutes of climbing behind us, we paused for a ritual team photo.
Our trip to Galbraith
We weren’t the only group of kids on the mountain on a sunny spring afternoon, there were also other groups from March Northwest out too.
While we were up there, Tyler Byrnes of March Northwest was leading a group of beginner rides through the trails. March Northwest helps beginner, intermediate, expert, and professional riders boost their skills, build confidence, and progress their riding.
Before I knew it, the girls were out in front of me on the Pipeline Road. This is familiar territory to these young veterans, I just hoped they’d wait for me at the trailhead.
It’s no secret that the key to success for motivating young mountain bikers is…Skittles. I think that’s why they stopped and waited at the entrance to the trail. At the entrances to the different trails up here are signs present to help identify where you are and where you’re headed.
Dropping in one at a time, to give each other space, they soared down the open trails that wind and curve across the treeless landscape.
As good as the riding was, we were distracted by the sounds of croaking frogs in the adjacent swamps. We had to take a break from the bikes to see if we could find any hanging out in the banks. We poked up Mole Trap to see what we could find. All went quiet upon our arrival.
Back at it, we charged the muddy puddles with full force.
Next stop, Dog Patch.
Thumbs-up and smiles suggest that we’re doing ok. They knew what they were getting into next. It’s a step up from what we just came down. This is another level, but they’ve all been here before. Go, team!
The bridge used to be a feature that we would stop and walk over but now, with the experience, we roll over and continue on our way.
We knew what we were in for, climbing up Dog Patch. While this is not recommended for everybody, it gets you from one point to the next and also confirms that it’s ok to get off and walk your bike.
This was our first ride of the season, so we didn’t complete our usual longer loop. We continued the climb up Pony Express to enjoy the descent of the last section of The Three Pigs, known simply as Brick. Once again, we ran into another March Northwest group at the intersection of the Tower Road and Road 2200 where many trails criss-cross the hillside.
Check out these other pages about mountain biking around Bellingham
- Car-Free Mountain Biking to Galbraith Mountain (you can too)
- The Grand Opening of Bellingham’s Pump Track
- Bike or Hike to Spectacular Views from Samish Bay Overlook and Oyster Dome
- Bellingham’s BIG Mountain Bike Race – “The Enduro”
- Adventure Biking in the North Cascades – The Canyon Ridge Trail
- Mountain Biking Bellingham’s Back Yard ~ Galbraith Mountain
On Facebook and Instagram, tag us in your photos while you’re on the trail with #BasecampBellingham!