Year-round hiking is plentiful in the Bellingham region. Combining the tails in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Chuckanut Mountains, North Cascades National Park, and Whatcom County, the regional’s has hundreds of miles of trials to explore. The City of Bellingham also offers an extensive system of hiking trails through city parks and greenways, where both water and mountain views are plentiful.
Travel Tip: Check out the City of Bellingham’s Summer Playbook for insider-tips on which Whatcom County outdoor recreation activities are available in each phase of Washington State’s Smart Start Covid-19 re-opening plan.
As restrictions on outdoor recreation are eased, and the sunny weather begs us to be outside, it is important to remember to Recreate Responsibly for our personal health, and the health of others. It is also important to remember which phase of Washington State’s reopening plan your community is located in. Bellingham and Whatcom County are currently in Phase 2. Outdoor Recreation is open for day use and some camping grounds are open. Residents are asked to stay close to home. Guidelines are updated daily on our Travel Advisory page.
A national coalition of land agencies and user groups has developed the following six guidelines for everyone to follow to keep our public lands open.
Know Before You Go: Check the status of trails and parks through these land agencies before to travel to the trailheads. If it is crowded when you arrive, please choose another option.
- City of Bellingham parks and trails are open, but playgrounds, sports fields, fenced dog areas, disc golf course and skate parks are closed. Picnics and group play are not allowed. Parking is limited. Social distancing is enforced. Face masks are recommended. Restrooms are open.
- Port of Bellingham has closed its bike park, Zuanich Playground. Workout Stations and Picnic Shelter at Marine Park and Jorgensen Pier.
- Whatcom County parks and trails are open. Restrooms are open. Campgrounds are closed. Social distancing and face masks are expected.
- Larrabee State Park is open for day use only. No camping.
- Birch Bay State Park is open for day use only. No camping.
- Peace Arch Historical State Park is open for day use only.
- Blanchard Mountain (DNR) is open. Restrooms are open. This includes the following recreation sites for day use only: Blanchard Lower Trailhead, Blanchard Upper Trailhead, Samish Overlook, Lily Lake, Lizard Lake, and Les Hilde Trailhead.
- Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest began a phased reopening of trailheads and day-use areas. Restrooms remain closed. Garbage and water service are unavailable. No camping.
- North Cascades National Park has reopened Diablo Overlook, Ross Lake Overlook, Gorge Creek Falls Overlook, and some trails for day-use only. The following remain closed: campgrounds, back-country campgrounds, visitor and wilderness information centers, and Cascade River Road.
Parking: Be sure to purchase a Discover Pass if parking on Washington State land, or a National Forest Pass if parking on Federal land.
City of Bellingham Hiking Trails
- Boulevard Park / South Bay Trail – 2 miles of trail
Waterfront park with great views of Bellingham Bay Trail connects Fairhaven District to downtown Bellingham with a section of the boardwalk over water. Best access is at the park or in Fairhaven at 10th & Mill St.
- Lake Padden Park – 2.6 miles around lake
The trail skirts this serene city park lake. There’s also five miles of bridal and mountain bike trails. Take I-5 exit 252 & drive southeast two miles.
Whatcom Falls Park – 5.5 miles of trail
Trails braid around Whatcom Creek in this woodland park. Features a waterfall and old stone bridge. Connects with Bloedel Donovan Park at Whatcom Lake. Take I-5 exit 253 and drive two miles east on Lakeway Dr. Or begin the Whatcom Creek Trail in Maritime Heritage Park in downtown Bellingham.
Cornwall Park – 1.5 miles of trail
Wooded park with many recreational amenities. Excellent for viewing a wide variety of trees and Squalicum Creek. Display rose garden during summer. Take I-5 exit 256 and drive 1/2 mile south on Meridian St.
Fairhaven Park – .5 mile loop within park, and beyond
Adjacent to Padden Creek, this park features many recreational amenities. The loop trail connects with the Interurban Trail. Located 1/2 mile south of the Fairhaven District, on Chuckanut Drive.
Walk along Taylor Dock from Fairhaven to Boulevard Park on the South Bay Trail.
Zuanich Point Park / Squalicum Harbor – 1 mile of trail
Paved trail runs from Hotel Bellwether around the harbor to Zuanich Point Park. Beautiful views of the bay and boats. Restaurants. Parking.
Interurban Trail – 9 miles of trail
Trail connects the Fairhaven District with Larrabee State Park, running adjacent to Chuckanut Drive most of the way. Switchbacks go through Arroyo Park, or you may skirt around the park on paved roads if bicycling. There are trailheads with parking in Fairhaven Park, on Old Fairhaven Parkway, Old Samish Highway and Chuckanut Dr.
Railroad Trail – 3 miles of trail
A gentle grade trail through neighborhoods. Connects Memorial Park with Bloedel Donovan Park. Views of the bay from the bridge. Look for marsh birds. There are several access points or begin at one of the parks.
Sehome Hill Arboretum – 5 miles of trail system
Wooded hill adjacent to Western Washington University. View of bay from observation tower at the summit. May drive to the top of the hill and park. I-5 exit 252, left on Bill McDonald Pkwy. and right on 25th St.
The Sehome Hill Arboretum Observation Tower.
Whatcom County Hiking Trails
North Lake Whatcom Park / Hertz Trail (Bellingham) – 3 miles of trail
A level scenic lakeside trail snuggled tightly between Stewart Mountain and Lake Whatcom. Drive around the north end of the lake and almost to the end of North Shore Road to get to the parking lot and trailhead.
Stimpson Family Nature Reserve (Sudden Valley) – 3 mile loop trail
Stroll through a dense forest and past a large beaver pond. Cougars have been sighted in the area so pay attention. Water crossings have new wooden bridges. Take Lakeway Drive east from the freeway. Stay right on all the forks in the road until you see the sign for Lake Louise. Turn right on Austin Road (turns into Lk. Louise Rd.) and follow it 1.6 miles to a small signed parking area on the left.
Hovander Homestead Park / Tennant Lake (Ferndale) – 4 miles of trail
A 1.5 mile trail and boardwalk meanders through a wetland marsh at Tennant Lake. Climb a viewing tower, too! A .5 mile trail connects the lake with Hovander’s “big red barn.” There are also two miles of trail running along the river dike of the Nooksack River. Take I-5 exit 262 and head west toward Ferndale on Main Street. At the railroad underpass turn south onto Homestead Road and follow the signs.
Semiahmoo Spit Trail (Blaine) – .75 mile paved and .75 mile beach walk
Easy paved trail with scenic water views next to Semiahmoo Resort. Great for a family bike ride with young children, or for bird watching. And, venture to the other side of the spit for a beach walk. Take I-5 exit 270 and follow the signs to Semiahmoo Resort (about 9 miles).
Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve (Birch Bay) – .75 mile trail
Features 54 acres of forest, bluff and beach, with a .75 mile fully accessible trail to spectacular viewpoints of the Strait of Georgia and San Juan Islands. A switchback path descends from the bluff to access a windswept cobble beach. Take I-5 Exit 266 Grandview Rd. and drive west 8.5 miles then curve left on Koehn Rd.
Terrell Creek Marsh Interpretive Trail at Birch Bay State Park – .5 mile trail
Easy walk and great trail featuring views of more than 30 species of birds. Beach and mud flats adjacent with free parking.
Be inspired by the beautiful hiking opportunities around Whatcom County.
Located between Chuckanut Drive Highway 11 and Interstate 5, the Chuckanut Mountains offer a variety of trails. The trails listed are accessed on the west side of the mountain. Some can be reached via I-5 exit 240 while others have a $5 parking lot. (Miles listed are one way)
Fragrance Lake Trail (1.9 miles / 3 km)
This popular trail is relatively steep and takes you to the lake. There is a nice overlook at 9/10 of a mile. Paid parking across from the Larrabee State Park entrance. Discover pass is required.
Pine & Cedar Lakes Trail (2-3 miles)
Steep for 1.5 miles, then levels off on an abandoned railroad grade. Outstanding alpine-type lakes, and vistas of Bellingham, Mt. Baker and the islands at an overlook near the lakes.
Oyster Dome (3.6-7.2 miles)
There is a network of trails on the Southern part of the Chuckanuts. The Dome trail starts from Chuckanut Drive, a few miles south of Larrabee State Park. Spectacular views and boulder fields.
Chuckanut Ridge Trail (4 miles)
This trail meanders along the mountain ridge and offers great views. An easy way to access it is to drive up a dirt road so you’re already at the top! From the Fairhaven District, drive south on Chuckanut Drive for about four miles. Turn left onto Highline Road (just before the fire station). This road veers left becoming Cleator Road. Drive for about three miles to the parking area. From here the trail heads north. It connects to other trails, so keep an eye on where you’re going. Also, there is a gate that is locked at dusk.
Clayton Beach (1/2 miles)
A nice short trail to the beach just south of the Larrabee Park entrance. Parking available at Lost Lake.
Mt. Baker Highway Hiking Trails / Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The Mt. Baker Highway is a designated “Scenic Byway” and begins at I-5 exit 253 in Bellingham. In winter, the road ends at milepost 55 at the ski area. In summer (around mid-July), the road is cleared of snow to Artist Point at milepost 58, and most trails are snow-free through the fall. Here is a short list of popular, and easy to moderate hikes in the Mt. Baker area.
Pick up a copy of the Ranger District’s North Cascades Challenger at the Visitors Bureau for more hikes and details about the Mt. Baker area. For current road and trail conditions on Mt. Baker Highway view the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest alerts and conditions webpage.
Note: There is a fee to park at National Forest trailheads and the Heather Meadows area at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway under the
Northwest Forest Pass program. $5 for a day pass, $30 for an annual pass.
Mount Baker Highway – Glacier Area Hiking Trails (Miles listed are one way)
Heliotrope Ridge (3 miles)
For the best and closest views of glaciers, this moderate hike also features forests, flowers, streams and waterfalls. Usually open mid-July through October (depending on snow melt). Directions: Drive to milepost 34.3, turn right on Glacier Creek Rd. #39. Drive eight miles on this narrow winding road to the trailhead.
Horseshoe Bend (1.5 miles / 2.4km)
Winds along the North Fork of the Nooksack River and is accessible most of the year. Directions: Park at milepost 35.4 on Mt. Baker Hwy. across from Douglas Fir Campground.
Yellow Aster Butte (3.6-5.0 miles / 5.8-8.0km)
Trail travels through parklands, rock gardens, views of summits, streams, and meadowlands. At the summit of the butte enjoy the full panorama. Directions: Drive to milepost 46.2 and turn left on Twin Lakes Rd. #3065. Drive 4.4 miles to parking area.
Damfino Lakes (3.0 miles) Nice hike leads through forested slopes to open meadows by Excelsior Pass passing by Demfino Lakes on the way. Directions: Highway 542 to MP 36, take Forest Road 31, drive 15 miles to the end of the road staying on main route and not forking onto any side roads.
Skyline Divide (4.5 miles)
From Bellingham follow the Mount Baker Highway (State Route 542) east for 34 miles to the Glacier Public Service Center. Continue east another 0.8 mile, turning right onto Forest Road 39 (Glacier Creek Road). Then immediately turn left onto FR 37 (signed “Skyline Trail 12”), following this rough, at times gravel road 12.8 miles to its terminus and the trailhead (elev. 4300 ft). Privy available.
Hannegan Pass (8 miles RT)
Climbs through avalance slopes, forest, streams and meadows with views of Ruth Mountain. At the pass you can contiune ton a steep trail to the peak with views of Mt. Shuksan. Directs: At MP 46.6 turn left on Hannegan Pass Rd. (#32) and drive 5.5 miles to trail-head (stay left at a fork in the road at mile 1.5).
Mount Baker Highway – Heather Meadows & Austin Pass Picnic Area Hiking Trails (at mileposts 55-56)
Picture Lake (.5 mile / .8 km)
This short easy trail, which is also wheelchair accessible, is not short on views. Get your camera out for the spectacular shot of Mt. Shuksan refecting in the lake. It also offers nice fall color. Directions: Parking is on the Mt. Baker Highway at milepost 55.
Fire and Ice Trail (.5 mile / .8 km)
This is a self-guided interpretive trail, and is wheelchair accessible. Several other trails also begin at this point. Directions: Park at the Heather Meadows Visitor Center at milepost 56.
Mount Baker Highway – Artist Point
Artist Ridge (1 mile / 1.6 km)
This self-guided interpretive trail takes you to overlooks with great views of Mt. Baker and other peaks. Directions: trail begins at the east side of the parking lot at Artist Point.
Chain Lakes Trail (1+ miles / 1.6+ km)
The first mile of this trail is nearly level, although on the side of a steep slope. It takes you to a junction with a closer view of Mt. Baker. At this point the trail splits and ambitious hikers can continue to Chains Lakes or Ptarminagn Ridge (4-5 more miles). Directions: trail begins at the south west end of the Artist Point parking lot.
Table Mountain (1.5 miles / 2.4 km) No Dogs.
The first part of this hike is steep and zig zags up through lava cliffs. (Not recommended for young children). It ends at mountain top with panoramic views. Directions: Trail begins at the north west side of the parking lot at Artist Point.
North Cascades National Park
The eastern half of Whatcom County is encompassed by North Cascades National Park, including the scenic Diablo Lake and Ross Lake, as well as the town of Newhalem on Highway 20. This one of the most remote and biodiverse of the national park in the United States.
Ladder Creek Falls (.4 miles round trip, includes stairs)
Hidden behind the Gorge Powerhouse in Newhalem, the hike to view Ladder Creek Falls was built by J.D. Ross as a tourist attraction illuminated by electric light in the evenings to show off the beauty of the electricity generated by the powerhouse.
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