Four Winter (and Early Spring) Hikes in Whatcom County

Need some fresh air? In winter and early spring, the temperatures are colder, but the sun still shines and hardy visitors to Bellingham still yearn for a refreshing day of hiking among the healthy evergreens. Although the high elevation trails are still covered in snow, a few year-round trails throughout Whatcom County can be enjoyed by those who seek adventure and outdoor recreation. These four hikes can offer outdoor enthusiasts’ various levels of difficulty and length.

  • Location: Glacier, Mount Baker Area
  • Length: 2.4 miles round trip
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy

The Horseshoe Bend Trail begins just outside of Glacier across the road from the entrance to the Douglas Fir Campground. There is plenty of parking at the trailhead on the east side of the road (Highway 542).

After you park, follow the stairs down toward the North Fork Nooksack River and hit the trail to the left. The trail hugs the water and will lead across a wooden boardwalk where you can cross the Nooksack. The trail eventually winds down so, turn around and head back the same way. Make sure you come prepared for mud and rain.

  • Location: Chuckanut Mountains outside Bellingham, WA
  • Length: 6.2 miles round trip
  • Level of Difficulty: Hard

During the cool weather, Oyster Dome doesn't attract the big crowds that are common during warm summer months. Plus, cool temperatures can be a comfort on this strenuous trail that climbs 1,900 feet in just over three miles.

Traveling south from Bellingham, take Chuckanut Drive to the west. Park along the road and carefully walk up to the trailhead, which is marked with a small post for the Pacific Northwest Trail. The trail immediately climbs above the road to a formal trailhead sign. Just keep climbing!

About a mile in, you’ll reach a bench where you can gaze out towards the San Juan Islands. These views only get better at the top, so continue for another half mile to reach a junction. Follow signs for the Samish Bay Trail to the left. The trail comes to a final junction at about 2.8 miles. Follow the sign for Oyster Dome to the left and begin your way down. 

The trail ends on sheer cliff where the Chuckanut Mountains meet the Salish Sea at 2,000 feet above sea level. This is the perfect time to take in the sweeping views of the San Juan Islands, Olympic Mountains, and Vancouver Island.

  • Location: Adjacent to the Western Washington University campus
  • Length: More than 6 miles of trails
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate

As you wander along, you’ll enjoy this 175.5-acre oasis filled with native tree canopies, winding trails, and the peaceful sounds of nature. For residents near downtown, the arboretum can be accessed on foot from Jersey Street. And, for those in the Samish Neighborhood, access the arboretum from Allen Avenue or Bill McDonald Parkway.

South of Western’s campus, you can walk or drive to the entrance on 25th Street, where you’ll find a small parking lot. Follow the Huntoon Trail up to the Lookout Tower, climb to the top, and enjoy the breathtaking views of Bellingham! The Huntoon Trail is paved, wide and easy to find within the vast network of trails throughout the Arboretum.

  • Location: Lynden, in North Whatcom County 
  • Length: More than 7 miles of trails
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy

This park is found on the outskirts of Lynden, just north of Bellingham, and provides an enjoyable hike for the forest lovers during the winter months. Multiple trails weave their way throughout the property and can be linked together to create a longer loop.

For a straightforward walk, take the 1.1-mile Eagle Loop Trail around the park. This dynamic trail was developed by an Eagle Scout troop and provides an accessible route for all experience levels. From the Eagle Loop, you can branch off on the smaller trails that weave their way throughout the spacious grounds.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990

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