Favorite Bellingham Area Hikes

Skyline Divide

Skyline Divide

Less than 2 hours north of Seattle,  the Bellingham area is full of some of the best hikes around. With easy access to the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest and the Chuckanut Mountains, as well as miles of opportunities within Whatcom County, Bellingham offers excellent year-round hiking opportunities. 

Below is a list of trail names and descriptions to inspire you to get outside and enjoy this incredible area with your kids, spouse or friends. 

Sources: Bellingham.org/WTA

County Parks & Trails

  • Hovander Homestead Park / Tennant Lake (Ferndale) – 4 miles of trail
    A 1 1/2 mile trail & boardwalk meanders through a wetland marsh at Tennent Lake. Climb a viewing tower, too! A 1/2 mile trail connects the lake with Hovander’s “big red barn.” There are also 2 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.
  • 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. 
  • Semiahmoo Spit Trail (Blaine) – 3/4 miles paved and 3/4 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) – 3/4 mile trail
    Features 54 acres of forest, bluff and beach, with a 3/4 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.

Oyster Dome

Bellingham Parks and 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
    Trail skirts this serene city park lake. There’s also 5 miles of bridal and mountain bike trails. Take I-5 exit 252 & drive southeast 2 miles.
  • Whatcom Falls Park – 5 1/2 miles of trail
    Trails braid around Whatcom Creek in this woodland park. Features a water fall and old stone bridge. Connects with Bloedel Donovan Park at Whatcom Lake. Take I-5 exit 253 and drive 2 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 – 1/2 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. 
  • 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 Faihaven 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. & right on 25th St. 

Taking the highway towards Baker Lake

Mt. Baker Trails (Highway 542)

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 fall. Click here to read about our adventure cutting a Christmas Tree last year in the Mount Baker National Forest. 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.

Glacier Area 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 8 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. Read Todd’s experience on Yellow Aster Butte Trail.
  • 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.

Heather Meadows & Austin Pass Picnic Area (at mileposts 55-56)

  • Picture Lake (1/2 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 (1/2 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.

DSC_0247Artist Point, Mt. Baker

  • 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.

Fragrance Lake

Chuckanut Mountain & Larrabee State Park Trails

Located between Chuckanut Drive Highway 11 and Interstate 5, Chuckanut Mountain offers a great variety of hikes, some difficult and some easy. Some of the parking lots have a $5 fee. (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.
  • 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.
  • 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 4 miles. Turn left onto Highline Road (just before the fire station). This road veers left becoming Cleator Road. Drive for about 3 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.
  • Oyster Dome (5 miles) 
  • Access to Oyster Dome is best from the Samish Overlook parking area on Blanchard Mountain. It’s a bit of a rough road to get there, but the views from the beginning and end of the hike are well worth it.Oyster Dome Snowy Hike

 What are some of your favorite hikes in the Bellingham area?

Sources: Bellingham.org/WTA/

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About Angela Strand

Angela is a wife, mama to three little ones and a lifelong Washington State resident. Besides facilitating the NW Healthy Mama website, she loves being involved in her kids' school, hiking with her girlfriends, growing all the things, writing, reading and taking photos.