Monday, July 27th, 2015
The Gates are Open to Bellingham’s New Waterfront Trail

You can start from the Hotel Bellwether and take the new Waterfront Trail to wind around the old Georgia-Pacific ASB (Aeration Stabilization Basin) Pond for great views of Bellingham Bay and the islands on the horizon to the south. The route provides an accessible trail from Bellwether Way to the ASB breakwater with hidden beach access.

Waterfront Trail View

The trail is part of the Waterfront District Redevelopment project that the Port and the City of Bellingham are working on with the community. Together, we are “redeveloping 237 acres on Bellingham’s central waterfront that was formerly a pulp and tissue manufacturing facility. A Master Plan has been approved to create a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood with new parks and trails and thousands of new jobs. This large land area won’t change overnight; it will be redeveloped in phases over the next 40-50 years of investment and development before the project is completely finished.” (source)

If you are staying at the dog friendly hotel, just walk out with Fido on a leash and hit the path. Looking west you’ll gaze over the entrance to Squalicum Harbor and the tip of Zuanich Point on the right.

Waterfront Trail Zuanich

Head towards downtown looking east with the iconic hotel lighthouse suite on your left. Stewart Mountain rises behind the city in on the horizon.

Waterfront Trail Bellwether

As you wind the corner you’ll have an eastern view of the water looking at the rip-rap of the breakwater that supports the ASB that you’re heading for. Sehome Hill Arboretum is the big hump on the landscape.

Waterfront Trail ASB

The sandy beach is seen in the lower right-hand side of the photo below. Old City Hall and the Bellingham Towers rise above the large warehouse building creating a linear line of perspective across the horizon.

Waterfront Trail Beach

Walk down the sidewalk and you’ll pass the USCG Station Bellingham on your right.

Waterfront Trail USCG Station Bellingham

The Waterfront trail turns at the end of the Coastie’s fenced yard and skirts the perimeter of the Overflow Parking area. Redden Marine is ahead if you need any gear, BTW.

Waterfront Trail Turn Right

The wide gravel path winds around the shoreline and leads you to the waterfront. The rustic fence keeps you on track as you cross this previously barren landscape. Two young gentlemen walk with a casual gait in search of fun.

Waterfront Trail Boyz

They found FUN on the side of the trail and had a good time sliding on a pipe.

Waterfront Trail Skaters

The trail bends around the inlet where the Central Command Center for Northern Salish Sea is located. Coasties are awesome!

Waterfront Trail USCG Harbor

For a shorter walk you can begin your journey from the parking lot on Hilton Avenue off of Roeder Ave. There is ample parking- including a handicap space if you need it.

Waterfront Trail Parking

From the parking lot, you’ll cross Hilton Ave and wind up the hill. The SSC Portable Toilet is placed on the side of the trail with their global headquarters rising above in the distance. Yes, that’s my MAN VAN poised for a quick getaway.

Waterfront Trail Crosswalk

The trail around the “G-P ASB” was opened with the urging of City of Bellingham Mayor Linville who wanted to provide access for people to watch the development on our waterfront. Below, our Mayor cuts the ceremonial ribbon to open the first section* of the trail to the public.

Waterfront Trail Ribbon Cutting

Before you head out on the trail, drop down to your right, down the stairs, to the private pocket beach with views of Portage, Lummi and Orcas Islands splintered by the Lummi Peninsula as the Bellwether keeps watch on the mainland.

Waterfront Trail Beach Access

The chain link fence around the pond keeps you safe from swimming while providing a view of the city with a new perspective. Proposals for this space include an outdoor recreation area and swimming pool**, build a marina or fill it in with dirt to create a park. Time, will tell.

Waterfront Trail ASB Pond

Ducks! I applauded their camouflage.

Waterfront Trail Ducks

Caution! There are some rules. “STAY ON THE DESIGNATED TRAIL AND KEEP YOUR PETS ON LEASH. This area is currently used for marine trade operations, including larger truck traffic. In the past, this area was used for a variety of industrial operations, and the soil and beach are contaminated. Cleanup plans to address the contamination are under development. Stay on the trail to avoid traffic and to minimize potential exposure to contaminants.” Good rules to follow.

Waterfront Trail Dogs

You’ll get out to the bend and have the silhouettes of  Lummi and Orcas Islands to encapsulate the bay.

Waterfront Trail Trees

As you stand out on the end of the bend, you’ll see the outline of Samish Island, The Olympic Mountains, Eliza Island Fidalgo Island & Mt. Erie, Lummi Island, Portage Island, Orcas Island & Mt. Constitution and the Lummi Peninsula intersecting the last four references.

Waterfront Trail View

This is as far as the trail goes, so far. The next section of trail will be opened up for the public to achieve the goal of the mayor- give the public a view of the redevelopment of our waterfront. Change is good!

See you OUT THERE.

* This is just the first section of trail. It ends around the corner, but the Port is working to extend it to be able to wrap around so you will be able to see the Waterfront Development happen in front of you.

**The Pool IDEA is super duper secret. 😉

For more fun ideas near Bellingham, see Todd’s full list of articles and our things to do pages.

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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