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.”


Trails from Rufus Creek, the main trail of Lookout Mountain Forest Reserve.


A fun 10.3-mile loop with 2700′ of climbing starts at the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve Trailhead on Lake Louise Rd. This route uses trails and forest roads to reach the summit of Lookout Mountain. From the parking lot, take Rufus Creek Trail, the main trail of Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve. Rufus Creek climbs 1000′ in 4.3 miles through a forest of moss and rainforest shrubbery. For this route, we’ll stay on Rufus Creek for about 3/4 of a mile to the Waterfall Trail.

Continue on the Waterfall Trail past the waterfall until it ends at LM-2000 Road. Turn right at LM-2000 and continue climbing. Two miles into the run, the road makes a quarter-mile S-turn. At the end of the turn is a trail on the right. Take this trail for 1.6 miles to the peak of Lookout Mountain. Otherwise, the LM-2000 will finish up at the peak of Lookout Mountain South.


San Juan Islands from Lookout Mountain Summit.


The Lookout Mountain summit is 4 miles into the route. At this point, most of the climbing is over. The summit has a couple of towers and expansive views of Bellingham, San Juan Islands, Lake Whatcom, and the mountains. Follow the road down to another tower through a turn on the right. There will be a trail on the back side of this tower platform.


Lookout Mountain Summit markers.


This trail is a quarter-mile connector to a forest road that completes the loop. Turn left on the road for a steady descent off the summit for 3 miles to the Cougar Ridge Trail. The Cougar Ridge Trail is a mountain bike-only trail, so only use it to connect back to Rufus Creek Trail. Turn left here for more miles and use the Backside Trail to connect with Galbraith Mountain. To complete the ten-mile loop, turn right on Rufus Creek Trail for a mile to the Baneberry Trail. Turn right on Baneberry for another mile until the Rufus Creek, LS2000 intersection. Continue down either path to finish the loop.


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