Ground broke on Lake Whatcom Park’s newest trail Saturday morning when about 60 volunteers turned out for a work party that also celebrated National Trails Day.
The trail is the first of several that Whatcom County officials and local groups plan to install around Lake Whatcom, said Michael McFarlane, director for Whatcom County Parks and Recreation.
The County Council last fall approved new trails on Stewart Mountain after more than 8,800 acres of state-owned forest land was transferred to the county in 2014. The plan includes new trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
“The idea was to link up some of the existing trails and park areas as well as some of the communities around the lake and also take some of the trails and roadways and abandon those and let them revert back to help with lake water quality,” McFarlane said.
The Saturday work party coincided with National Trails Day, organized by the American Hiking Society, to connect people with trails.
Groups at the event included the Washington Trails Association, the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, the Mount Baker Club and the Greater Bellingham Running Club. Having organizations like these were key to getting the trails built, McFarlane said.
“One of the things that they bring to the table, and that the community does, are volunteers that come out here,” he said. “We couldn’t do that without that support.”
The county has allocated about $200,000 for the next two years of trail development at Lake Whatcom Park, McFarlane said.
Volunteers Saturday worked to clear the brush and level the trail, which will offer a climbing route up Stewart Mountain, McFarlane said. As the work progresses along the proposed corridor, he added, the completed sections will be available to the public for hiking, walking and running.
Once the trail is in place, volunteers will begin building the overlook. The goal, McFarlane added, is to have it completed by fall.