Monday, November 4th, 2013
Playing at Lake Padden-Something for Everybody
Todd Elsworth

Lake Padden Park offers outstanding recreational opportunities for everybody. Nestled in the south end of Bellingham, Lake Padden is the centerpiece around which trails weave through the woods- where you can ride your horse, go for a swim, take your dog for a walk, paddle or row your boat, ride your bike, go fishing with your grand-kids, stroll around the lake with your sweetheart, or go golfing with your buddies- you get the picture.

Fishing off the dock at Lake Padden

Fishing off the dock at Lake Padden

You can also bring your “best friend” Fido. There is a fenced-in dog park at the south end of the lake. From the back gate of the spacious dog-designated area, you (and your dog) can enter the off-leash area and venture out into the network of trails adjacent to the golf course. These are popular running and biking trails- especially for dog-owners!

Lake Padden Dog Park

Lake Padden Dog Park

Lake Padden is also a great spot for families to come play together. There are two Picnic Shelters available for reservation- check availability on the parks department’s EZ Reg¬†website, or contact the¬†Parks & Recreation Main Office. The adjacent playground, basketball courts and multi-use fields are all within reach. Each May, this is the location of the Jr Ski to Sea Race (see below).

Lake Padden Shelters and Playground

Lake Padden Shelters and Playground

For the more adventurous, head out into the trails for some real action. The mountain bike trails offer some expert level terrain. Check out the Bellingham Traverse Mountain Bike Course video to see a fun route around the park. Use caution and alert others with your voice or a bell. Remember: Bikes must yield to pedestrians an horses on the trails (see helpful sign on map below).


Jon Brunk Photography – 2013 Bellingham Traverse – Lake Padden

Padden is also a great place to play in or on the water. There’s easy access to the water at the swim beach. It has become a convenient place to launch SUPs and kayaks alike. Paddling around the lake is a real treat anytime of year.

Kayak Lake Padden

Paddling on Lake Padden

I hope you can make your way out there to enjoy all that the area has to offer. There are always plenty of locals around if you need some more direction once you’re there. Just ask!

TRAIL DESCRIPTION, Source: City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation:
An easy loop trail goes around the lake through open and wooded areas. Moderately difficult dirt trails through the woods south and east of the lake with mostly hilly terrain. Horse trailer parking at the Wilkin St. trailhead. Horses must yield to pedestrians. Padden Gorge Trail follows the creek from the dam west of the lake to 36th St. Dogs must be on leash, except where noted.

Lake Padden Trail Map

West Entrance off of Samish Way, East of 46th St.
East Entrance, off of Samish Way, East of Governor Rd.
Wilkin St. (east of 40th St.) This is also the horse trailer parking lot.
Trailhead parking and trail access on Samish Way across from Galbraith Lane.

2.6 mile loop trail around the Lake.
5.1 miles of multipurpose trails south and east of the Lake.

Lake Padden Park is a community park established in 1972. Facilities include two picnic shelters, playground, beach with swimming area, restrooms, trails, parking, basketball court, softball fields, multi-purpose fields, barbecue grills, picnic tables, and fenced dog park.

Lake Padden Golf Course was rated by Golf Digest as one of the best municipal courses in the state. This beautiful 18 hole golf course is a full service facility offering complete practice facilities, golf lessons, snack bar and club rentals.  (360) 738-7400.

The Habitat Walk around Lake Padden invites visitors to learn about native plants, healthy wildlife habitats and landscaping for wildlife.  There are 5 Interpretive Sites around the Lake.


Upcoming Lake Padden Events

Padden Mudfest

Sunday November 3, 2013 10:00 am
The Padden Mudfest is a 6 mile trail race taking place on wooded single track trails in Lake Padden Park in Bellingham. This race is unique in offering some of the muddy conditions and challenging hill climbs often only found in ultra runs. If you like trails, mud, and hills, give this run a try.

Resolution Walk/Run & Padden Polar Dip

January 1, 2014 11:00 am
Start off the New Year right with a brisk walk or run around beautiful Lake Padden. At the finish we’ll have snacks, patio heaters and lots of camaraderie before the dip. At high noon we’ll line up and jump in chilly Lake Padden. We’ll have heated showers and goodies for everyone exiting the water.

Jr. Ski to Sea

Saturday, May 17, 2014
The Junior Ski to Sea race is a beloved community event held locally at beautiful Lake Padden since 1991 for participants who are at least in the 3rd grade or older.

Padden Triathlon

Saturday, June 28, 2014
The Padden Triathlon is an excellent first, second or twenty-second triathlon. Our course is simple, beautiful and well staffed. In an effort to make this a race you’ll enjoy year after year, we’ve made everything as simple as possible, so on race day you can focus on the event. Our goal is to make the Padden Triathlon the best organized, most affordable, chip timed event you’ll do all summer. Please start your triathlon season here in Bellingham.

Bellingham Traverse

Saturday, September 20, 2014
5.5 mi. GREENWAYS RUN, 6 mi. MTN BIKE, 18 mi. ROAD RIDE, 3.4 mi. TRAIL RUN, 3.6 mi. PADDLE
and .65 mi. TEAM TREK to the Boundary Bay Finish Line and Bellingham Block Party- The PeaceHealth Bellingham Traverse is a multi-sport event celebrating the life cycle of wild salmon and the natural and urban challenges of their journey. Solo, tandem and relay teams challenge themselves and one another on a rugged course that highlights the City of Bellingham’s Parks, Greenways System, bike-friendly roads, and open water opportunities for recreation.

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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

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