Sehome Hill Arboretum a good hike for all ages


This is a nice walk through lush woods over a network of trails that will take you to an 80-foot viewing tower after an easy amble from an upper parking lot. From the top of the tower, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the city and Bellingham Bay as well as — on clear days — the Canadian Cascades and Mount Baker.

Children might like walking through a tunnel, which was blasted through sandstone in 1923, on the Tunnel Ridge Trail.

Bring a map if you’re new to the arboretum and don’t have a good sense of direction. There are maps posted at the bottom and the top of the hill, but no signs are posted on the warren of routes to tell you what trail you’re on.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Elevation gain: 325 feet

Round trip: 5 1/2 miles total

Hiking time: About 2 hours

Users: Hikers

Best time to hike: Year-round

Family friendly: Yes

Amenities: None

Maps: Bellingham Trail Guide. Find it online by going to www.cob.org/services, then clicking on “Trails” under the “Recreation” heading. Then scroll down to “Sehome Hill.” Find printed versions at the Bellingham Parks Department office at 3424 Meridian St. (Cornwall Park).

A trail map is posted at the arboretum’s top parking lot as well as on a bottom trail on the western side of the campus.

Dogs: Dogs must be on a leash.

Driving directions: From Interstate 5, take the Samish Way exit (252) to Bill McDonald Parkway. Go on the parkway until you reach the edge of Western Washington University and then turn right on the road that’s just before Buchanan Towers (across from the Washington Archive Building), which is 25th Street.Parking is available soon after turning right at the Sehome Hill Arboretum. Access the hill’s trails from the bottom, or drive up to the top and park in the lot and access the trails from there.

Getting there: In addition to the two trailheads mentioned above, the trails also may be accessed from the north at Jersey and East Myrtle streets.

If you start from the upper parking lot, you can enjoy a short loop made up of the Tower Trail and the Huntoon Trail, or extend the walk to the North Reservoir Trail, which drops down to Jersey and East Myrtle streets. The walk back up from there will give you a challenge if you prefer something more than an amble.

From the lower parking lot, walk on Arboretum Way until it connects to Huntoon Trail, which you can take up and over to Douglas-Fir Trail, making a loop of a little over 1 1/2 miles.More information: www.ac.wwu.edu/~share/introduction.html