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New Lake Whatcom parkland to have 98 miles of trails. How many have been built so far?

The end of the Chanterelle Trail at Lake Whatcom Park offers beautiful wide-open views of Lake Whatcom and Lookout Mountain.
The end of the Chanterelle Trail at Lake Whatcom Park offers beautiful wide-open views of Lake Whatcom and Lookout Mountain. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Another five miles of trails will be built this summer in new parkland that straddles Lake Whatcom.

The effort kicks off June 2 on National Trails Day.

It will be the second round of trail-building in parkland created by the 2014 transfer of 8,844 acres of forest land around Lake Whatcom from the state to the county.

The plan is to create a network totaling about 98 miles of trails, which will include an existing 10 miles of county parks trails, over a number of years, according to a recreational plan.

One parcel of transferred land is on the slopes of Stewart Mountain on the east side of the lake, and it was added to Lake Whatcom Park. The other is on the west side, and it was added to Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve.

A 2.4-mile trail on the Lake Whatcom Park side was built last summer, and opened to the public Sept. 30.

Called the Chanterelle Trail, the out-and-back route already has become a popular destination, according to Reid Park, conservation and parks steward for Whatcom County Parks and Recreation.

Volunteers from numerous recreation groups pitched in to help build the Chanterelle — they put in 1,944 hours of labor — and they're expected to turn out again this summer.

"It's the first year of many more years to come with new trails. It's only possible through community support," Park said.

Building the Chanterelle cost $73,000.

Trail building this upcoming season will be on the opposite side, on Lookout Mountain, at a cost of $149,000.

There will be additional trails built off the Chanterelle and the segment being built this summer, according to Michael McFarlane, director for Whatcom County Parks and Recreation.

Starting next year, there also are plans to add to the Chanterelle, which is on the slopes of Stewart Mountain, so it becomes a big loop with connections to the Hertz Trail down at the shoreline of Lake Whatcom.

The goal of the land transfer was to balance non-motorized recreation — hiking, running, mountain biking and horseback riding — and protecting water quality in Lake Whatcom by preventing development.

The lake is the drinking water source for nearly 100,000 residents of Bellingham and Whatcom County.

Also important was protecting wildlife habitat, including for the marbled murrelet, a rare and endangered seabird that has been documented in the area.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea
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