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Do there seem to be more people in our great outdoors? This may be part of the reason why

Hikers walk along the Artist Ridge Trail that offers fabulous views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Seattle Magazine featured a number of Whatcom County outdoor favorites, including Artist Point, in an article showcasing recreation activities near Seattle.
Hikers walk along the Artist Ridge Trail that offers fabulous views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Seattle Magazine featured a number of Whatcom County outdoor favorites, including Artist Point, in an article showcasing recreation activities near Seattle. The Bellingham Herald file

Do the wide-open expanses of Whatcom County's great outdoors seem just a little bit less ... well, wide-open? Feel like getting away only lands you in another crowd of people?

Sure, we can blame the fact that there are substantially more of us living in northwest corner of the state than ever before, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates, but it's a heck of a lot more fun to point the finger at somebody else.

Our well-kept secret paradise here in Whatcom County is about as well-kept as the end of "Avengers: Infinity War" — seems like just everybody has heard by now.

So, who's responsible for spilling the beans?

The latest "culprit" is Seattle Magazine, which in its June 2018 issue will release its "85 Best Outdoor Adventures: The Top Hikes, Beaches and Campsites Close to Seattle." A sneak peak was provided online, and guess who's featured rather prominently?

You got it — us. Please take your spot at the end of a Disneyland-sized line now.

In fact, Artist Point was featured as THE best place to stargaze in Washington parks."

"If you aren’t mesmerized by the view of the heavens above from Artist Point, perched at 5,000 feet elevation in an otherworldly alpine saddle between two of the Cascades’ most iconic peaks (Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker), you probably aren’t much of a stargazer," Roddy Scheer and Megan Toal wrote of a treasure Whatcom County did its best to keep sheltered out of view.

Mount Baker, Whatcom County’s most famous landmark, celebrates two important anniversaries in August. On Aug. 11, 1911, Joe Galbraith won the first Mount Baker Marathon. Forty-three years earlier, on Aug. 17, 1868, a party led by Edmund Coleman ma

Baker Lake, and Panorama Point Campground in particular, also were listed as good places to catch the nighttime skies.

Panorama Point wasn't the only area campground listed by Seattle Magazine. Chain Lakes Trail campsites were selected the best hike-in camping in the publication's "10 Perfect Washington State Campsites," while the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest campgrounds were selected the best sites for privacy.

Fortunately, Whatcom County managed to avoid the magazine's top hiking, biking, beach going, thrill seeking and places to stay.

What, no hiking or biking trails are worth the trip up from Seattle? What do they know, right?

But Whatcom County's numerous hiking trails weren't overlooked by author Stephen Hui, who recently had Greystone Books publish his "105 Hikes In and Around Southwester British Columbia."

After years of effort, the entire 1,600-acre 'core' of forested Blanchard Mountain in Skagit County has been protected from logging after legislators passed the state capital budget earlier in 2018.

He was kind enough to include a number of area hikes, including Fragrance Lake, Oyster Dome, Pine and Cedar Lakes Trail, Skyline Divide, Yellow Aster Butte and the aforementioned Chain Lakes Trail.

"For many metro Vancouver residents, Bellingham is synonymous with cross-border shopping and hazy memories of a pizza buffet," Hui wrote. "However, locals know there's decent hiking immediately south of the 85,000-strong 'City of Subdued Excitement,' in the sandstone foothills of the Chuckanut Mountains."

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