Hikers and walkers can find peace and quiet without a long drive by taking advantage of the trails that surround Lake Padden.
Elevation gain: 500 feet.
Round trip: Up to 6 miles.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The trail looping the lake is mostly flat while other trails in the network are more rugged.
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Access: Pedestrians, mountain bikes, horses.
Best times to go: Year-round.
Amenities: Picnic tables, grills for barbecuing, restrooms, softball fields, beachfront with swimming area, golf course, boat launch.
Highlights: Follow the gravel path around the lake (2.6 miles) for an enjoyable forested stroll or run. For a more adventurous route, follow the trail network south of the lake.
Maps: Bellingham Parks & Recreation Department at www.cob.org/parks. Click on “parks and trails,” then “general trail guide.”
Getting there: From Bellingham, head south on Samish Way until you see the two park entrances on your right. You’ll travel about 2.2 miles from the Samish Way overpass at Interstate 5.
To hike the more challenging and longer trail network south of the lake: From the bridge across Padden Creek on the lake’s west end, head south and uphill to a junction of two wide paths. Stay right. Turn left at a four-way junction at the ridge crest and follow the trail’s ups and downs to another junction. Take a right and follow a moderate — and potentially muddy — climb through fir and cedar forest; pass beneath the “fallen tree arch,” a giant rotten log.
The trail descends to another junction.
Left leads to the lakeshore trail, right leads to a steeper network of trails to a ridge crest.
Trails and trail loops continue all the way to Galbraith Road and back to the lake.
Source: “Hiking Whatcom County,” by Ken Wilcox (Northwest Wild Books).