Year-round, Whatcom County is a lovely spot for scenic drives and hikes. But this time of year, as the colors change from bright greens to gorgeous gold, tawny brown and resplendent red, it’s a good idea to hop in your car, get out your hiking boots or hop on your bike and see those places you’ve read about but never taken the time to visit. Along your way, you’ll see breathtaking vistas, mountain meadows, views of the bays and lakes, and, no doubt, some wildlife.
Here are a few suggestions for fall outings. Remember to take your Discover Pass with you for access to state parks and other state recreation lands.
Chuckanut Drive, State Route 11, begins as you leave Fairhaven, and travels south to Bow in Skagit County. Luckily, there are numerous places for drivers to pull over and take in the views of Chuckanut and Samish bays, the San Juan Islands and the Olympic Mountains. There are numerous mountain trails of varying difficulty, and some are ADA-accessible. Stop for a picnic at Larrabee State Park.
Mount Baker Highway, State Route 542, starts at Sunset Drive in Bellingham and stretches all the way to the base of the unbeatable Koma Kulshan, better known as Mount Baker (it ends at milepost 55 in the winter, at Mt. Baker Ski Area). You’ll travel by big-leaf maples, evergreens, swift-running creeks and forks off the Nooksack River, and the communities of Deming, Maple Falls and Glacier. As with Chuckanut Drive, there are many trails for on-foot explorations.
Both Chuckanut Drive and Mount Baker Highway are designated scenic drives by the state Department of Transportation.
Want to stay close to town for a casual walk? Memorial Park in Sunnyland neighborhood, the north shore along Lake Whatcom and the Interurban Trail in Bellingham are all delightful places.
In the Lynden area, stroll the Jim Kaemingk Sr. Trail or explore Berthusen Park.
In Ferndale, bike or walk the dike-top trail along the Nooksack, or explore Tennant Lake and Hovander Homestead Park.
Blaine’s Semiahmoo Park offers views of White Rock, B.C., and the Gulf Islands.
Wherever you wander and however you travel, remember to dress for the weather and don’t forget your camera. Check some of the websites listed here for more ideas.