Friday, December 28th, 2012
Paddle to Beautiful Views at Clark’s Point
Todd Elsworth

Walking the trails at Clark’s Point in Bellingham takes some local knowledge to accomplish. There is no car parking available at the trailhead for access to the viewpoints on both the east and west side of this peninsula. You must get there by bike, walk, or boat. We chose to approach from the water. This is our story (with map at bottom).

Our adventure began in Fairhaven. My kayak is stored at the Community Boating Center year round, making it quite convenient to get out on the water. During their operating season you can rent boats, take classes, and get out on the water through the Boating Center’s many programs and related offerings. Port of Bellingham owns and manages the Fairhaven public boat launch for kayaks and other small craft. It is a great place to launch any adventure from.

We were all bundled up and ready to go. Since it was not a big weather day (wind or rain) and the likelihood of us capsizing in the bay was low, we just layered up. We were essentially dressed for winter weather hiking. Safety experts recommend wearing a dry suit when winter paddling in local waters- some even prefer year-round. I am with one of my most trusted outdoor companions and we are respectful of the limits of pushing the edge. I paddle a high volume sea-touring kayak- it’s big and beamy. My buddy Al was in one of his doublewide day boats and I convinced him to wear a skirt for added comfort (protection) since the possibility of some weather is ever present in the Northwest.

Fairhaven Boatworks

As we headed out around the dry dock of Fairhaven Boatworks, we commented to each other that the wind was actually coming out of the north from Canada and would be helping us along our way. With the wind at our backs, we headed south towards Clark’s Point. There were the customary pockets of people lining the waterfront as we cruised past Marine Park . We pointed our boats downwind and it was a smooth ride on the waves with the wind at our backs. We flew past Post Point as we paralleled the railroad tracks. In short order we were approaching the small pocket beach on the north side of Clark’s Point. You can see it just to the right of the train tunnel.

West Clark's Point approach

We landed and got out to explore. The trail is easy to find that leads up to the overlook on the west side of Clark’s Point. We discovered that there are trails that connect the two sides of the peninsula. The city maintains the trails on both the east and west sides of the point. While some sections are steep to get up and down to the beaches, the walk out to the West Clark viewpoint is relatively easy. Once you’re up on the promontory, you have great views of Bellingham Bay and if you time it correctly, amazing sunsets. Even on an overcast winter day, the views are still inspiring and worthy of a few moments of quiet contemplation.

West Clark's Point view

Clark’s Point is “one of the last large, relatively undeveloped pieces of coastal property in private ownership in the Pacific Northwest. The conservation easement is designed to protect the natural habitat for wildlife and plants, and to retain the aesthetic value of the property for the benefit of the public.” “A priceless gift from Doug Clark and his family” is how this easement is described by a Whatcom Land Trust board member. Clark’s Point is a spectacularly beautiful peninsula jutting into Chuckanut Bay and visible from Chuckanut Drive. For boaters, its wind-sculpted sandstone cliffs, red-barked madrona trees and towering firs are a beloved landmark.” – Whatcom Land Trust.

West Clark's Point

We explored both sides of the point, reminiscing about the times we had spent there decades ago. On the east side, you have access to Mud Bay. If the tide is low enough you can walk around the high tide mark. On the west side, there are plenty of places to perch yourself to take in the views and enjoy the area wildlife.

As we sat on land or floated on the water, we enjoyed watching Herons, Cormorants, Oyster Catchers, seagulls, ducks and other birds that I am not familiar with yet. It was feeding time so there was plenty of activity for us to witness. After our walk, we got back on the water and headed for home. It was a great short jaunt that mixed together paddling and a bit of land exploration. The perfect combination for a mellow day on Bellingham Bay. Heading home, we were glad that the wind had died down with the setting of the sun. Paddling through the twilight gave us a unique perspective of Bellingham from the water. A seal trailed behind me for a bit to make sure we were going to be safe getting home. They too, are such curious creatures.


The Clark’s Point Paddle Route

Clark's Point paddle route


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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


  1. I live in Fairhaven so I am excited to make this kayak trip! Have you done kayaking trips further north near Blaine, in Drayton Harbor, California Creek, Dakota Creek, beautiful area to kayak as well.

    Comment by Debbie Harger — January 4, 2013 @ 8:44 am

  2. Thanks Debbie- it’s a fun local paddle. I have paddled up north. I look forward to sharing those stories in the future.

    Comment by Todd Elsworth — January 6, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

  3. […] first. From the north beach, you can see the lower end of Woodstock Farm and the north end of Clark’s Point. This seems to be the less popular of the two beaches so we had the place to ourselves for a while- […]

    Pingback by Traipsing to Teddy Bear Cove | Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism — January 29, 2013 @ 9:24 am

  4. Do you know if Winston churchill ever visited Clark’s Point? I uncovered a first edition book of poetry with two watercolors…one on inside of each cover of the book, with a deligtful watercolor signed WSC..titled “Western Way from Clark’s Point”. Churchill was a big friend of author. Can you help…any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by M. M. Kelley — June 27, 2013 @ 7:23 am

  5. I do not know if Churchill visited or not. Please let us know what you find out.

    Comment by Todd Elsworth — June 28, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

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