There’s now more of this Lake Whatcom trail to love

Starting this weekend, hikers and mountain bikers will be able to enjoy more of a popular trail known for its stunning, wide-open views of Lake Whatcom.

Another 2.6 miles has been added to the popular Chanterelle Trail at Lake Whatcom Park as part of an ongoing project to build an extensive trail network totaling some 98 miles, according to a recreational trail plan for Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve and Lake Whatcom Park.

The new section of Chanterelle will be moderately difficult with peekaboo views of Lake Whatcom and Lookout Mountain across the lake, according to Reid Parker, the conservation and parks steward for the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s essentially adding trail miles through really nice forest,” Parker explained of the new section.

The extension picks up where the first section ends — at an overlook with a jaw-dropping view of Lake Whatcom.

From there, it climbs another 1,000 feet up Stewart Mountain — offering views that include young and old forests as well as pretty ravines, according to Parker.

A work party will be out on the new section on Saturday, Sept. 28, for finishing touches that include installing signs, rock work and replanting ferns.

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A view from the Chanterelle Trail Overlook in Lake Whatcom Park Kie Relyea The Bellingham Herald

Then that part of the trail will officially open on Sunday, when the weather is forecast to be partly sunny with a high of 60.

The additional miles will make for a round trip — out and back — of 10 miles.

The work party will include county parks crews as well as volunteers from the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, REI, Whatcom Land Trust and the Washington Trails Association.

It’s the third trail project built for the new Whatcom County parkland, located on both sides of Lake Whatcom, that was created by the transfer of 8,844 acres of forest land around the lake from the state to Whatcom County in 2014.

The other two trail projects gave us:

▪ The first 2.4-mile section of Chanterelle Trail that opened in 2017.

▪ The new Rufus Creek Trail, which totals 4.3 miles, that opened in fall 2018 in Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve off Lake Louise Road.

Rufus ends at the 1.3-mile Cougar Ridge Trail, which is a newish trail reserved for mountain bikers riding downhill.

Crews have been building the trails during the warmer months.

“We’re super pleased with how things are coming along,” Parker said, adding that, depending on the terrain, crews and volunteers can build 4 to 6 miles of new trail each summer in the new parkland.

The new section of the Chanterelle Trail will ultimately be part of a 10-plus mile loop that ends down at Lake Whatcom, according to Parker.

The loop’s completion is probably about two years out, he said.

Upper Chanterelle Trail.jpg
Crews and volunteers are putting the finishing touches on a new 2.6-mile section of the Chanterelle Trail, which will officially open on Sunday, Sept. 29, for hikers and bicyclists. The upper reach of the trail begins at the overlook. Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Meanwhile, crews and volunteers also are building a trail for mountain bikes only, called Brown Pow. It will be reserved for riders heading down the mountain and back to the Chanterelle trailhead.

Brown Pow is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition is taking the lead on this project, with technical assistance from county parks, Parker said.

Separate mountain biking trails help reduce conflict between different trail users and help improve safety, Parker said.

“We’re trying to be thoughtful in our new trail system to avoid people being hurt,” Parker said.

The new section of Chanterelle Trail and the Brown Pow bike trail cost about $130,000, according to Parker.

Money for them came from part of the $443,000 allocated by the County Council in 2017 from the Real Estate Excise Tax II fund for trail development in Lake Whatcom Park and Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve, Parker said.

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A view of Lake Whatcom from the Chanterelle Trail at Lake Whatcom Park. Kie Relyea The Bellingham Herald file

Getting there

To get to the Chanterelle Trail, follow North Shore Drive around the north end of Lake Whatcom past Agate Bay and across the bridge at Smith Creek. The route will turn into Northshore Road. Turn left (if coming from Bellingham) at the Lake Whatcom Park sign. Follow the road and then park at the well-marked trailhead at the end of the road in the main parking area.

Parking is free. There’s a restroom in the main parking lot.

Details: www.whatcomcounty.us/1913/Parks-Trails

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.