Take caution and check for road closures due to wildfires in the North Cascades.

10 Best Walking Trails in Bellingham and Whatcom County

Bellingham and Whatcom County are known for incredible outdoor recreation opportunities. Although many visitors seek adrenaline in the outdoors, Bellingham is also lucky to have numerous quiet nature trails leading to waterfalls, through old-growth forests, and along peaceful lakes and bays. If you just want to get outside for a walk during your visit to Bellingham, we’ve got you covered.

Connecting downtown Bellingham to the Historic Fairhaven Village, the scenic South Bay Trail is Bellingham’s iconic waterfront walk. At 2.5 miles one-way, it’s long enough for a good workout yet short enough to complete in a few hours. The trail is mostly flat with the exception of Taylor Dock, which transports walkers from a bluff down to a boardwalk that extends over Bellingham Bay.

You can begin at several points along the trail. In Fairhaven, the trail begins at the corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street, near the Fairhaven Village Green. There’s also plenty of parking at Boulevard Park, or you can begin at the north end of the trail in downtown Bellingham, at the signed Laurel Street trail head (between Railroad Avenue and State Street).

One of Whatcom County’s most-loved natural landmarks, Whatcom Falls Park is a family favorite destination year-round. Viewed from a 1939-built stone bridge, the falls can swell up to 40 feet wide during rainier months.

A short, paved walkway leads to the main falls from the Silver Beach Road parking lot off of Lakeway Drive. From here, over 5 miles of gravel trails spread throughout the park. Most are gentle and great for a leisurely walk.

Among the many hiking trails that traverse the Chuckanut Mountains, the Interurban Trail is the most gentle. At 6 miles (one way) in length, this mostly flat former trolley line is wide and well-used by walkers, bikers, and joggers. Running from Fairhaven to Larrabee State Park, the trail parallels Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway.

For access near town, park at Fairhaven Park. Or, drive south on Chuckanut Drive from Fairhaven to access the trail from its Arroyo Park and North Chuckanut Mountain trailheads.

Lake Padden’s 2.6-mile loop trail is an excellent year-round walking destination near Bellingham. Similar in size to Seattle’s Green Lake (yet far less urban), Padden is frequented by walkers, joggers, and summertime swimmers and sunbathers. The gravel path is mostly flat, with steeper horse trails available for those seeking a workout.

To access the park, take I-5 exit 252 and drive southeast along Samish Way for 2 miles to the West Lake Padden parking lot on the right. Or you can continue down Samish Way to the East entrance for access to the off-leash dog park.

This 175.5 acre oasis is located next to the Western Washington University campus and offers six miles of meandering trails through towering native trees. Nearly every trail option concludes at the arboretum's popular observation tower, where you can climb to the top for panoramic views of Bellingham and Bellingham Bay. Bikes are not allowed on this trail.

Travel tip #1: If you don't feel like walking, you can also drive to a parking lot that offers easier access to the observation tower.

Travel tip #2: While you're in the area, check out Western's sculpture collection on campus.  

For those in need of a forest bathing experience, Stimpson Reserve delivers 350 acres of undisturbed old-growth. Walk beneath the lush canopy to access two loop trails. The shorter and easier of the two routes encircles Geneva Pond, while the longer main loop meanders for 2.8 miles. In total, you can walk over 4 miles on these wooded trails. Watch and listen for wildlife as you wander.

On the southern side of Lake Whatcom, access Stimpson Reserve from the trailhead off of Lake Louise Road, near Sudden Valley.

Running for 3 miles along Lake Whatcom’s northern shoreline, the Hertz Trail features covered bridges, quiet beaches, and calming colors during the fall season. This railroad-turned-trail once served the Blue Canyon Mines at the south end of the lake. Today, it’s an easy stroll for all ages and is a great option for a nice dog walk near town.

From the trailhead at Lake Whatcom Park, walk south on the trail. After 1 mile you’ll reach a small waterfall, followed by a covered bridge and beach. This is a great turnaround spot, especially for little legs. You can continue south for 2 more miles from here, where the trail eventually terminates at a private property boundary.

For something more aerobic, choose the Chanterelle Trail, which begins from the same parking lot. 

Take a trip to Ferndale’s Hovander Homestead Park to walk through history. Established in 1898, the homestead property offers 4 miles of well-groomed trails. A 1.5-mile boardwalk trail meanders through the wetland marsh at Tennant Lake. Climb a viewing tower, too! A 0.5-mile trail connects the lake with Hovander’s “big red barn” and historic buildings. There are also 2 miles of trail running along the river dike of the Nooksack River.

Take I-5 exit 262 and head west towards Ferndale on Main Street. At the railroad underpass, turn south onto Homestead Road and follow the signs into the park.

Walk a paved 0.8-mile trail with scenic water views at Semiahmoo Spit in Blaine. Great for a leisurely walk, family bike ride, or bird watching, the south side of the spit offers views over Drayton Harbor to Mount Baker. Venture to the north side of the spit for a 1-mile beach walk.

Take I-5 exit 270 and follow the signs to Semiahmoo Resort (about 9 miles) to access the trailhead at Semiahmoo Park.

Drive the scenic Mount Baker Highway for 54 miles east of Bellingham to take in one of the finest views in Whatcom County: Mount Shuksan reflected in Picture Lake. With a fresh dusting of snow on Mount Shuksan and an array of fall colors, Picture Lake is especially picturesque during autumn. Walk the 0.5-mile, ADA-accessible loop trail around the lake for views from every angle.

Head up Highway 20 into North Cascades National Park for this one-of-a-kind nature walk. 

Stretch your legs with a family-friendly stroll as you learn about Newhalem history at Ladder Creek Falls. In the evenings, a colored light show provides entertainment from dusk till 11 p.m. year-round. Featuring a suspension bridge over the Skagit River, gardens, and a 1920’s powerhouse, the trail to Ladder Creek Falls is an excellent micro-adventure for all ages.

For access, head east from Sedro-Woolley on Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway). Drive to the town of Newhalem at milepost 120. Turn right onto Main Street, pass the General Store and restrooms, then turn left onto the one-way road. Continue 0.25 miles to the Ladder Creek Falls trailhead at the east end of town. Parking is available in a gravel lot next to the river.

        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

Places to Stay
Getting Here
Read Blogs

Photo Contest
Contact Us
Tourism Talk

Industry Resources
Join as a Partner
Media Inquiries
About Us
Site by Drozian Webworks
©2024 Visit Bellingham Whatcom County