Had too much to eat, drink? Consider these 5 lowland hikes to ring in the new year

Todd Elsworth of Recreation Northwest, center, leads a hike through the Hundred Acre Wood in spring 2017.
Todd Elsworth of Recreation Northwest, center, leads a hike through the Hundred Acre Wood in spring 2017. rmittendorf@bhamherald.com

A New Year’s Day walk is tradition among many people who want to highlight their changing intentions for the months ahead.

And there should be good weather for it, too. Current forecasts call for mostly sunny skies with a high temperature around 40 degrees.

Here are five hikes around Whatcom County to start 2018 with a little exercise and a breath of fresh air.

Lake Padden

Lake Padden Park offers one of Whatcom County’s most popular hikes, a generally easy 2.6-mile loop around the lake that goes past playgrounds, a dog park and beachfront but also heads deep into the woods along the lake’s south shore. More challenging hiking and biking trails branch off the south end of the lake and head into the hills. A short side trip on the west side of the lake follows Padden Gorge and features several waterfalls.

lake padden
Lake Padden is pictured October 2015. Evan Abell eabell@bhamherald.com

If you’re looking for a serene stroll through a Northwest forest canopy, go early in the morning or later in the day – the city’s popular annual Resolution Walk/Run starts at 11 a.m. Monday, followed by Lake Padden Polar Dip at noon Monday. Both events are free and draw hundreds of participants.

For a printable trail map, go online, cob.org.

Larrabee State Park

All Washington state parks offer free admission on New Year’s Day.

Larrabee State Park south of Bellingham features many trails, but a free guided hike heads to Fragrance Lake via the 2 Dollar Trail through old-growth forest with an elevation gain of 550 feet. Afterward, enjoy a hot cup of apple cider with the group at the park.

Trail runners traverse trails in the Chuckanut Mountains around Fragrance Lake in 2011. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

The 4-mile round-trip guided hike starts at 9 a.m. from the 2 Dollar Trailhead on Cleator Road and is open to the first 25 people. Dogs are allowed on leash.

If you can make the guided hike, Larrabee State Park offers several other scenic hikes.

For information, call 360-755-9231 or go online, adventureawaits.com.

South Bay Trail

Another of the area’s most popular and scenic hikes is along the South Bay Trail, which stretches about 2.5 miles one-way along the shore from the south end of downtown Bellingham to the Village Green in Fairhaven. Its route is paved or hard-packed soil, making it perfect for walking, running, biking or walking the dog in all kinds of weather.

Free parking is available at Boulevard Park or at either end of the trail in Bellingham or Fairhaven. For those who like to hike one-way and take public transit back, note that Whatcom Transportation Authority buses don’t operate on New Year’s Day.

Taylor Dock is packed with pedestrians during a sunny day in November 2014. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

For a hot drink and to rest by the fireplace, the Woods Coffee shop at Boulevard Park will be open 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Boulevard Park also has a playground and restrooms.

Find a printable map of the trail at cob.org.

Hundred Acre Wood & Fairhaven Park

New trails at Fairhaven Park traverse the newly acquired land known affectionately as the Hundred Acre Wood.

Recreation Northwest recently completed a boardwalk over a perennially muddy area of one trail, making it more accessible in wet weather. Find that trailhead east of the picnic shelter, uphill from the spray park.

Other trails at Fairhaven Park intersect with the Interurban Trail that connects downtown Fairhaven with the Lost Lake Trailhead in Larrabee State Park. All are well-groomed and suitable for hiking and biking.

North Lake Whatcom Trail (Hertz Trail)

For a scenic trail past old-growth trees along the shore of Lake Whatcom, try the Hertz Trail, part of Whatcom County’s new Lake Whatcom Park.

This out-and-back trail has only 100 feet of elevation gain along its 3-mile one-way route. Along the way are waterfalls and lake views and at the half-mile mark is an interpretive kiosk that notes the area’s history and trail’s origins as part of the Bellingham & Eastern Railway.

The North Lake Whatcom Trail, also known as the Hertz Trail, hugs the shore of Lake Whatcom. Several waterfalls are visible along the three-mile route. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

There’s a pit toilet at the trailhead parking area about 10 miles east of Bellingham at the end of North Shore Drive. The trail – also called the North Lake Whatcom Trail – is also popular with runners and mountain bikers.

Find a printable map online at www.co.whatcom.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/6964.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty