Todd Elsworth | 11/21/2016 | Fall, Hiking, Insider Blogs, Seasonal Travel |   

A Fun Fall Hike through Chuckanut Creek and Falls

From the North Chuckanut Mountain trailhead parking lot, just off Chuckanut Drive, we were looking for a short hike under the cover of the forest canopy of Chuckanut Mountain Park. The rain was in the forecast, but we had to get out there for some fresh air. img_6553 We followed the sign pointing to the Chuckanut Trails, as part of the larger Interurban Trail that extends south to Larrabee State Park. We'd follow the Hemlock Trail to get to Chuckanut Falls. According to Whatcom County Parks: "The Hemlock Trail is the main gateway into the northern part of the Chuckanuts. From the North Chuckanut Mountain Trailhead and Arroyo Park, the Hemlock Trail links to the Lost Lake trails to the south and the Pine and Cedar Lakes trails to the east. This trail will lead you to amazing views of waterfalls, mountains, Bellingham Bay, and the San Juan Islands...come experience why the Chuckanuts are the heart of Bellingham's year-round recreation lifestyle." From the North Chuckanut Mountain Trailhead Moderate, 2.7 miles round trip to Chuckanut Falls via loop Moderate, 1.2 miles one-way to the Lost Lake Trail Junction Moderate, 2.1 miles one-way to the Huckleberry Trail Moderate, 2.5 miles one-way to the Salal/Huckleberry Trail Junction Difficult, 3.5 miles one-way to the Raptor Ridge Trail Difficult, 4.1 miles one-way to the junction with the Pine and Cedar Lakes Trail As we crossed the slope on the wide path, we encountered our first waterfall. This small creek is one of the many tributaries that flow into Chuckanut Creek below. img_6558 Walking a bit further, we could peer down the steep slope and see the rushing creek below. This time of year, it is teeming with spawning Chum salmon, which would also become a part of our agenda! img_6559 The signage in the forest helps point the way and keep you on track as you explore the crisscrossed paths that line the slopes. It was also comforting to know that we were getting close and on the right track. img_6563 Of course, we had our Chuckanut Mountain map with us to help guide the way and provide perspective on where we were in proximity to it all. Yes, that is I-5 nearby. img_6568 I like to pretend that the rushing sound of the vehicles on the interstate is a large river flowing nearby. The natural sound of cascading water creates negative ions with positive vibrations resounding in our body and souls. We stayed and soaked it in. img_6565 Back on the trail, we ventured on and were easily distracted by the variety of the fungus among us. Stopping to check out the spores and fungi that sprout out is always time well spent getting to know the natural environment a little better with each step. img_6572 As we walked up to the reconnect with the Hemlock Trail, this big one had just broken through the surface of the solid dirt. This is one small example of the power of nature you can be exposed to- just a short step out of town. img_6576 We weren't the only ones out on a rainy weekend day. We came across two different groups of kids in the local Explorers programs. Both groups of girls and boys were geared up in their raingear and bounding their way through the forest. The young group of girls we encountered even offered up some licorice root that they had plucked from the dirt floor. Yes, it was yummy. img_6579 We wound down the Hemlock Trail and headed down to the base of the creek in Arroyo Park. I knew that our friends from NSEA would be there, helping to interpret the journey that the Chum salmon were making. I had recently updated a previous story, Chasing Chums up Chuckanut Creek, and wanted to check in on this year's return! img_6584 The trails were full of salmon watchers and the creek lined with Chum making their last-ditch effort to spawn and yes, die. ChuckanutSalmonmolt Spring will bring a rebirth and a chance to look for little fry the next time we get out there! Hiking in the fall is a great opportunity to make a connection with the full life cycle.

        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.
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