Located just outside Bellingham, Locust Beach is a little rough around the edges but charming nonetheless.
It had long been an unofficial playground until the city of Bellingham bought it in 2012 to improve public access to the water.
Three years later, the city put in a parking area to reduce problems caused by people parking on the shoulders of Locust Avenue and Marine Drive — creating congestion, headaches for neighbors, and concerns about traffic safety — before heading down to the beach.
Why you’ll like it: The Nooksack River has spilled so much silt into this part of Bellingham Bay that, at low tide, the water pulls back to reveal 150 acres or more of squishy but walkable mudflats.
Which is why it’s not unusual to see shoes lined up on the beach, seeming to wait patiently for their owners to return from a walk far out onto the tidelands.
So this is a good spot if you like seeing how far you can walk across this part of Bellingham Bay. Or if you have kids who like the feeling of wet stuff squishing between their toes.
Like kiteboarding? When the tide is high, Locust Beach has long been popular with kiteboarders — some travel from Seattle and British Columbia — because there are enough windy days to kiteboard more than half the year. You’ll also like the shallows here because the water is warmer and it’s easier to rest if you get tired by simply stopping and putting your feet down.
Like skimboarding? The shallow water of the bay make Locust Beach an ideal place for gliding across Bellingham Bay on a wood or fiberglass board.
Most skimboarders like to practice skateboard-style tricks here.
And if you don’t like doing any of that stuff, you can just sit at the beach and stare at the 100-foot bluffs or out at pretty Bellingham Bay and wonder about the history behind the spindly remnants of wooden pilings.
Getting there: Take Eldridge Avenue/Marine Drive to Locust Avenue. Turn right onto Locust Avenue. At the first right, turn into a gravel parking lot.
From the lot, walk out to Locust Avenue and stay on it — you’ll walk under a graffitied railroad bridge — until it ends at some concrete blocks. Walk around the blocks and take the trail on your right. Follow it a short way down to the beach.
Users: Hikers, kiteboarders, skimboarders, beach lovers.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on how secure you feel with your footing. The walk down to the beach takes roughly seven minutes, but you’ll need to walk down a few steep stairs toward the end of the trail. At low tide, expect to walk over a lot of rocks on the beach.
You should know: There are no restrooms. Dogs must be on a leash. Camping, fires, smoking, vaping and alcohol are banned. Do the beach, and the neighbors a favor, by not leaving your trash behind. And follow the rules listed on the park sign, the city says.