Those exquisite fall days of sunshine and earthy colors are a great opportunity to head outdoors and expose your family to a good hike. The county has so many hidden hiking secrets that the most challenging activity is choosing one. Let your family’s fitness level determine the kind of hike you select, to prevent a day out turning into an excruciating whining session. And pack lots of snacks, as the hikes will take you off the beaten (or tarred) road and into the forests – where snacks are in short supply!
Teddy Bear Cove
This is a quick but steep hike along a switchback trail through the forest, but when you arrive you’re rewarded with magnificent views of Chuckanut Bay and Clark’s Point from a sand- and crushed shell-beach. The unusual beach of crushed shells is the result of a century’s worth of crushed clam shells. At low tide families can explore the tidal pools or walk on paths on the bluff, where there’s a rare grove of Garry Oak trees.
To reach Teddy Bear Cove, park at the Interurban Trail North Chuckanut Trailhead at 1467 Chuckanut Drive and bring a picnic. This secluded spot is amenity-free.
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This is a favorite destination of off-road mountain bikers, but the good news is they are hiker-friendly! The switchback paths up the mountain are a good workout and lead to fabulous views of Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands, the Canadian Coastal Range and Mount Baker. There’s myriad trails on Gallbraith – as many as 95 – and they vary in complexity and length, so it’s a good idea to purchase a map of the mountain so you can choose the right hike for your family.
Access to the mountain is northside or southside. From the north, access at Birch street, where there’s a parking lot as well as street parking close to the Miranda trail. From the south, access the mountain via Samish Way and park across the street from Galbraith Lane road, or at Lake Padden’s parking lot near the dog park.
Silver Lake County Park
The hardest thing about Silver Lake Park is deciding what, exactly, to do. The 410-acre park features a forestry museum, a swimming beach, trails, a playground and open activity fields. A 40-minute drive from Bellingham on the Mount Baker Highway, this is a great park for walking, horseback riding or taking the kids out paddling on Silver Lake.
A 1.7 mile (one-way) trail connects Red Mountain Campground to the Black Mountain logging road system and the trail is suitable for hiking, biking and horseback riders. Consider bringing fishing tackle – this is a favorite fishing destination in the county and rowboats, canoes and pedal boats are available for rent.