It’s a winter rite of passage for children everywhere that snow falls: Bundle up in warm clothes, drag a sled and venture through unplowed neighborhood streets to the nearest hill.
Because we experience only sporadic snowfalls in lowland Whatcom County, winter snow play often means a day trip to the mountains. But when the white stuff flies around Bellingham, the young and the young-at-heart head to the hills. There’s always a steep driveway or gentle slope nearby, but some areas are so popular that they draw dozens of sledders.
Mount Baker area
Mount Baker-Snoqualime National Forest offers countless places to drop a sled and go. Among the most popular sites are the area around Picture Lake and the slopes near the large parking lot near where the Mount Baker Highway is gated in winter, at the trailhead for Bagley Lakes.
One popular place to sled is at Highwood Lake near the Mt. Baker Ski Area.
Parking in the national forest requires a Northwest Forest Pass or day-use pass, available from the Glacier Public Service Station, which is open weekends in winter. Other areas may require a state Discover Pass or Sno-Park permit.
Details: 360-734-6117; snow line: 360-671-0211, mtbaker.us.
Squalicum Creek Park
One of Bellingham’s most popular parks is also a neighborhood favorite for sledding in the event of a late-autumn snowfall.
Details: 1001 Squalicum Way, find a link to a PDF trail map at cob.org/services/recreation/parks-trails, 360-778-7000.
Lynden City Park
The hill near the Million Smiles Playground at this downtown park has been a local favorite of sledders for years.
Details: 8460 Depot Road, Lynden; 360-354-6717, lyndenwa.org/departments/parks/city-park.
Maritime Heritage Park
The long hill here, with its gentle slope, draws sledders from the Lettered Streets, Columbia and surrounding neighborhoods near downtown.
Details: 500 W Holly St., cob.org/services/recreation/parks-trails, 360-778-7000.
The hill at this park has been favored by generations of Bellinghamsters.
Details: 107 Chuckanut Drive North, cob.org/services/recreation/parks-trails, 360-778-7000.