Bellingham is located in the Northwest corner of Washington, just south of the Canadian border, where the Cascade Mountain range reaches the Pacific Ocean and Bellingham Bay. Bellingham has expansive views of Mount Baker and the North Cascades, surrounded by a wide variety of evergreens, conifers, and serene lakes hidden among the city’s foothills. Western Washington University is at the center of Bellingham and offers a wealthy variety of recreational, cultural, educational, and economic activities. Forbes named Bellingham one of the 14 coolest places to visit for a summer vacation.
Bellingham has over 90 miles of paved and dirt trails within the city limits. From the middle of Bellingham, one can trail run directly to the Chuckanut Mountains rain forest, part of the Cascade Mountain Range. Within a short distance on the Interurban Trail are waterfalls flowing through giant cedars and firs. Follow the Interurban Trail to Larrabee State Park in the heart of the Chuckanuts.
Within a short drive from Bellingham are various trails to explore. Even Vancouver, BC, is a short drive, or you can take a ferry to the San Juan Islands or Vancouver Island.
Bellingham Trail Runs
The Chuckanut Mountains and Larabee Park are located on the southern border of Bellingham, making them accessible by foot to almost anyone in the city. There are endless routes to run and all types of challenges.
Bellingham resident Gretchen Walla of Walla Trails describes some favorite trails outside the Chuckanuts. “When I want to change it up from the Chuckanuts, and there is snow in the mountains, Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve has some great trails,” says Walla. “It’s typically quieter than the Galbraith Mountain trail system, but if you want to add miles, The Backside/Bottoms Up Trails connect to Galbraith, which can make for some great long runs.”
Stewart Mountain is east of Bellingham between Lake Whatcom and the South Fork Nooksack River valley. “It has a lot of trail options, including a loop starting from Y Road or from the Hentz Trailhead (which is back open after a nearby fire this past summer,) declares Walla. “The summit of Stewart Mountain has some great views, and there’s a new trail off the Chanterelle Trail that will give you a good sweat!”
Blanchard State Forest is about 30 minutes south of Bellingham. “One of my favorite GBRC races and running routes is the Blanchard Beast course,” claims Walla. “It has it all – forest service roads, vert, sweet single-track trails, and views.”
Bellingham Trail Races
Hamster Endurance Runs from Walla Trails is a 6/12/24/32 hour event using the 2.6 loop around Lake Padden. Registration opens on January 9th.
Chuckanut 50k– One of the oldest ultramarathons in the Pacific Northwest is in the Chuckanut Mountains.
Kill Bill’s Oyster Challenge from Northwest Endurance Events is a 25k and 50k that takes place on Blanchard Mountain. Oysters are served at the aid station at the Oyster Dome.
Also from Northwest Endurance Events is the Last Chance Marathon and Half Marathon from Fairhaven Park, which takes place on New Year’s Eve.
The Fragrance Lake 50k, Half, and 10k from Destination Trail uses the trails in the Chuckanut Mountains, starting and finishing in Larrabee State Park.
The Larabee Lakes 12k, 25k, and 50k is a new race from Evergreen Trail Runs. It also starts at Fairhaven Park and uses the trails in the Chuckanut Mountains.
The Galbraith Mountain: Community Race Series from Aspire Adventure Running is a winter running series from 7.5 miles to 14.5 miles on the trails of Galbraith Mountain.
Bellingham Trail Running Groups
There’s no shortage of group runs in the Bellingham area, according to Walla. Here are a few long-standing and well-attended group runs:
Fairhaven Runners and Walkers Tuesday Night all-paces runs are fun, chill, and generally a large group, so it’s a great way to meet other runners.
Trail Sisters has a Bellingham group and an active Facebook page detailing trail runs in the area.
The Bellingham Distance Project is a post-collegiate women’s and men’s competitive training and racing team. BDP hosts group training runs and trail races at Galbraith Mountain.
The Bellingham Trail Running Club has many group runs in the Bellingham area, and adventure runs beyond.
Cafe Blue in Fairhaven has a super cool, eclectic vibe with excellent coffee. According to Walla, if you want a seat, plan on getting there when they open.
Hammerhead Coffee is a relatively new coffee shop for Bellingham but is already popular. Great coffee at decent prices in the heart of downtown.
Camber Coffee is a popular spot to meet up or work remotely over some quality coffee.
Otherside Bagels has yummy bagel options for everyone, including gluten-free and vegan options.
Colophon Cafe is a solid choice for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, or dinner. It is located in the Fairhaven area next to a popular bookstore, a running store, and several other great shops.
Pepper Sisters is a Bellingham staple! Fresh Mexican-style food with refreshing margaritas.
Bellingham Cider Co. has the best selection of ciders, with a full menu and an incredible deck in the summer.
Aslan Brewery is Walla’s favorite choice for food, with great local beer and cider options.
Boundary Bay Brewing Co. is a historic spot in the heart of downtown. There is good beer, food, and a great location downtown
Wander Brewery happens to be the after-party spot for Chuckanut 50k! It is a community-driven brewery with great beer, low-key vibes, and a good selection of food trucks
Trackside (summer/fall only) is a great outdoor venue with local music, lots of food variety, and great spot for the family and fido (and next to a pump track!)
Mt. Baker over Bellingham: Carlos Praga Pinterest Page
Downtown Bellingham- source: KGMI photographer Dave Walker
This post may contain affiliate links, for which Northwest Dirt Churners receives a small commission from any sale when clicked from this site. These commissions will provide entry fees for youth runners in Northwest Dirt Churners trail races.