We’re fortunate in Whatcom County.
We have a lot of places to go if we need to get out and about this Thanksgiving weekend to work off a big meal, to show off the natural beauty in this part of the world to family visiting for the holiday or to avoid the shopping madness on Black Friday for quiet on the trail.
Here are four hikes you can enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend, even in the rain.
Be sure to check the weather before you head out because stormy weather is expected to blow in this holiday weekend, bringing breezy to windy conditions to parts of Whatcom and Skagit counties.
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South Bay Trail to Boulevard Park and Taylor Dock (Bellingham)
Difficulty: Easy. Can be negotiated by wheelchair.
Round trip: Roughly 4 miles
Users: Walkers and bicyclists
Why you’ll like it: This popular waterfront walk boasts pretty views of Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands and various mountains. It takes you through Boulevard Park, one of Bellingham’s gems. Plus, unlike some of the area’s trails this time of the year, it doesn’t get too muddy. There’s also access to beachfront.
Family friendly: Yes. The route is wide, easy to follow and marked along the way with interpretive signs that explain the city’s history and fishing and lumber heritage. But it does go over railroad crossings, so keep a close eye on children.
There’s a playground and a Woods Coffee at Boulevard Park.
Getting there: Start at East Laurel Street, between North State Street and Railroad Avenue, to hop onto the South Bay Trail. The route to Boulevard Park through to Taylor Dock is easy to follow. If you want to keep going, turn right after you get off Taylor Dock to head south to Fairhaven. If you’re short on time, park in the parking lot for Boulevard Park, which is the midpoint.
Oyster Dome Trail (near Bellingham)
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. The first and last half-miles are steep, with an elevation gain of about 1,840 feet to the top of Oyster Dome.
Round trip: Up to six miles
Users: Hikers. Dogs must be leashed.
Why you’ll like it: You will sweat for the spectacular, sweeping views from the top of Oyster Dome – and be happy for it. Because this tough trek has a huge payoff at the top, 2,021 feet up, with scenery that takes in Samish Bay, the San Juan Islands, Skagit Valley and Georgia Strait.
The trail starts out steep as it switchbacks through forest, enters a clear-cut area offering great views after a mile, then heads back into the forest.
At the first junction, about 1.8 miles from the trailhead, go straight to continue to Oyster Dome. Go right for a side trip to Samish Overlook, a hang-glider launch site.
Family friendly: No, if small children are coming along. The hike is steep and muddy in places and requires crossing several small streams. Also, Oyster Dome itself has a cliff face.
Getting there: Take Chuckanut Drive about 10 miles south of Bellingham, just over the line into Skagit County, to a turnout just south of the Oyster Bar restaurant. Make sure you’re parking off the side of the road. Find the trailhead across the road at the Pacific Northwest Trail sign.
Interurban Trail (Bellingham)
Round trip: 13.2 miles
Users: Hikers and bicyclists
Why you’ll like it: This is an easygoing trail except for a steep section in Arroyo Park. You’ll go through mostly wooded areas and be treated to views of Bellingham and Chuckanut bays, as well as of the San Juan Islands. Best of all, this trail system branches off and hooks you up to many more miles of trails in Chuckanut Mountain, in case you truly feel the urge to walk off your Thanksgiving meal, including the second and third helpings.
Family friendly: Yes.
Getting there: The main trailhead for this route, which connects the Fairhaven district with Larrabee State Park via an old railroad bed, is at 10th Street and Donovan Avenue for access from the north. Access from the south is at Larrabee State Park.
Map: Go to cob.org and type “Interurban Trail” into the search window, though you likely won’t need a map.
Vehicle parking permit: None required from 10th and Donovan. A Discover Pass is required for Larrabee State Park; $10 for a day pass and $30 for an annual pass.
Semiahmoo Spit (near Blaine)
Difficulty: Easy, with wheelchair accessibility on a paved trail.
Round trip: 1.6 miles
Users: Walkers and bicyclists
Why you’ll like it: There’s plenty to appreciate about this flat and gentle walk on the saltwater sand spit, which includes Semiahmoo Park. You can stroll along a 0.8-mile paved trail or explore the beach on either side of the spit in a 1.6-mile loop. Look across Drayton Harbor to Mount Baker and across Semiahmoo Bay to White Rock, B.C. Bring your binoculars. The area is a renowned birding site for waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors.
Family friendly: Yes
Getting there: Take Interstate 5 north from Bellingham to exit 270 (Birch Bay-Lynden Road). Turn left and follow until road ends (at Birch Bay Waterslides). Turn right onto Harborview Road. Turn left on Lincoln Road and follow the signs to Semiahmoo resort. Park in the parking lot set aside for Semiahmoo Park on Semiahmoo Parkway, about eight miles from the highway exit.