Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
Bellingham on Two Wheels

Getting on a bike and getting into the fresh air is easy in Bellingham and Whatcom County. Miles of urban bike lanes, back-woods trails and country roads await riders, as do specialized maps, weekly and annual bike events, and numerous support organizations. See our recent series of short videos on mountain biking, road biking and motorcycling at http://www.bellingham.org/press/video-gallery/.

As an official “Trail City USA,” Bellingham, WA is proud of its outdoors access for pedestrians and bikers. Several waterfront hotels offer bike routes from the front door, including The Chrysalis Inn & Spa, Fairhaven Village Inn, and Hotel Bellwether. For those who enjoy riding, but would rather not transport their equipment, quality bike rentals are offered in Bellingham at Jack’s Bicycle Rental, Fanatik Bike Company and Fairhaven Bike & Ski.

From here, the possibilities are endless. The city’s parks department has put great effort into compiling and maintaining a detailed Bellingham Trail Guide, which includes maps and descriptions featuring 65 miles of multi-use trails throughout the city that are open to bikes. The guide is located online at: http://www.cob.org/documents/parks/parks-trails/trail-guide/bellingham_trail_guide.pdf.

In addition, the city has published a Bellingham Bike Routes map, which is extremely helpful for road bikers. It is located at: http://www.cob.org/documents/gis/maps/COB_Bikemap_lr.jpg.

Whatcom County, which surrounds Bellingham, is equally proud of its biking opportunities. Bike routes along country roads are easily accessed from Semiahmoo Resort & Spa in Blaine, Silver Reef Casino & Spa in Ferndale, and the Willows Inn on Lummi Island.

Many county routes feature wide open spaces and gorgeous views of Puget Sound, Mt. Baker and miles of farmland. A Whatcom County Bike Map is found online at: https://www.whatcomsmarttrips.org/pdf/CountyBikeMap.pdf.

For mountain bikers, Bellingham’s Galbraith Mountain has been ranked among the top 10 places to ride in the nation by Mountain Bike Magazine. This area between Lake Padden and Lake Whatcom is officially North Lookout Mountain. Generally the south side of the mountain is recommended for beginning mountain bikers, while the north side is highly touted for advanced riders. An overview map can be seen at http://www.trails.com/activity.aspx?area=10321.

Galbraith’s menagerie of trails and stunning views are legendary. It is located on private land, and the trails are maintained for non-motorized use by volunteers in the local group WHIMPS (Whatcom Independent Mountain Pedalers) Mountain Bike Coalition. Extensive information about Galbraith is located on the WHIMPS website www.whimpsmtb.org. Detailed maps of Galbraith Mountain trails are available for purchase at www.galbraithmt.com. WHIMPS also maintains extensive mountain bike trails on Chuckanut Mountain, Blanchard Mountain, Anderson Mountain, and Steward Mountain, as well as the Bellingham Dirt Jump Park at Civic Field.

The Mt. Baker Bicycle Club also supports bicycle recreation, education and trail maintenance in Whatcom County. Throughout the year, the club hosts weekly riding events that are open to all. Contact information and details for each of the following rides is located at www.mtbakerbikeclub.org.

  • Tuesday Morning Social Ride, 30-40 miles starting at Pioneer Park in Ferndale.
  • Wednesday Evening Group Workout Ride, 30 miles starting & ending at Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham.
  • Saturday Donut Ride, 24-45 miles from Kulshan Cycles in Bellingham to Ferndale or Birch Bay and back.
  • Once a month, the club also hosts a Saturday Recumbent Ride through Bellingham.

Bellingham and Whatcom County are home to several annual biking events that draw riders from throughout the region.

Each summer nearly 1,000 bike riders participate in the Tour de Whatcom. This popular event begins in the picturesque Fairhaven Historic District, and offers riders a choice of three distance routes for enjoying the surrounding Whatcom County in 25, 50 or 105 miles. Full details are at: www.tourdewhatcom.com.

  • The 25-mile route leaves Fairhaven and travels through downtown Bellingham heading north. The ride continues on city streets and back country roads past water views to Ferndale’s Pioneer Park, then returns on the same route.
  • The 50-mile route begins and ends on the same 25-mile route, but extends the ride an additional 25 miles to Birch Bay and back, viewing Whatcom County’s northwestern shoreline as it reaches toward Canada. This middle distance rendezvous with the 105-mile riders in Birch Bay and joins the 25-mile riders as they return from Ferndale.
  • The 105-mile route is a true loop of Whatcom County. The ride begins in Fairhaven and heads south on back roads past Lake Samish to Alger, where it turns north and travels through thick evergreen forests to the east end of Lake Whatcom. Here the route continues north through Acme to Deming, where it takes a northwesterly angle through the small towns and gorgeous farmland of Everson, Lynden and Custer before reaching Blaine on the U.S.-Canada border. To complete the loop, the ride then heads south to Birch Bay and onto Ferndale, before returning to downtown Bellingham and Fairhaven’s welcoming Village Green.

In September, the Mt. Baker Bicycle Club hosts the Chuckanut Century Ride. This scenic ride offers multiple distance options including 25, 38, 50, 56, 62, 100 and 124 mile loops.  All versions begin at Boundary Bay Brewery in downtown Bellingham. Riders may then choose to travel either north to Birch Bay, or south along scenic Chuckanut Drive past Samish Bay and Padilla Bay.  Details and maps are located at http://www.chuckanutcentury.org.

Of course “two wheels” also includes the motorized version, and Whatcom County is no stranger to that arena either. Hannegan Speedway, located on the Mount Baker Motorcycle Club’s 50 acres in Bellingham, offers motocross, flat track and off road events from February through October. Founded in 1925, the club is one of the 10 oldest in the U.S. and second oldest on the Pacific Coast.

Two popular motorcycle rides in Whatcom County are the scenic routes Chuckanut Drive and Mount Baker Highway. Both offer breathtaking views, relatively low traffice and frequent turnouts along winding two-lane highways. Maps of both routes are available online in pdf format at http://www.bellingham.org/activities/scenic-drives/.

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