Although fall brings shorter days and cooler weather, America’s favorite season is often the best time of year to experience the beauty of nature. Looking for a spot in the Pacific Northwest to experience fall foliage? Look no farther than Bellingham, WA.
Located beside Bellingham Bay and with views of Mount Baker, the largest city in Whatcom County is full of stunning scenery.
One the best thing about Bellingham in the fall is exploring the miles of hiking trails in the area, which are often much less crowded at this time of year. Breathe in the crisp fall air while you crunch through brightly-colored leaves.
If you’re planning an autumn escape to one of Bellingham’s best hotels, check out these awesome Bellingham hikes to keep you busy during your stay!
1. Lake Whatcom Trail (Hertz Trail)
The Lake Whatcom Trail, also known as the Hertz Trail, is one the best Bellingham hikes, and it’s also easy enough for anyone to enjoy. This six-mile round trip around the shoreline is one of the flattest trails around, with an elevation of just 100 feet.
While the trail offers stunning views all year round, in the fall there are fewer motorboats to spoil the route’s tranquility. Plus, when the lake is smooth it offers a flawless reflection of the trees surrounding the water, ideal for admiring the colorful autumn foliage.
As well as beautiful views of the lake, the route takes you past streams and waterfalls. There’s also an information kiosk around half a mile from the parking lot where you can read up on the history of the trail.
2. Oyster Dome
Oyster Dome is infamous when it comes to hiking trails near Bellingham WA. This 6.5-mile round trip is located along Chuckanut Drive, around 12 miles outside of Bellingham.
Many say that the Oyster Dome loop offers the best views in the area. Which must be why this route is so popular, despite it being quite a strenuous hike.
However, you’re sure to say that the climb was worth it when you catch sight of the sweeping views. From the top you can see Lummi Island, Samish Bay, the Skagit River flats and Orcas Island. Not to mention priceless views of Vancouver and the Olympic Mountains.
The route on the way to the top is also full of beautiful scenery, especially at this time of the year. Expect to see plenty of colorful autumn foliage, as well as streams and waterfalls. And, if you come in fall, you’re more likely to get this popular hiking trail to yourself.
3. Fragrance Lake
The Fragrance Lake hike has all the best features any trail can offer, making it a classic in the Bellingham area.
As well as a viewpoint that’s a mere 200-foot detour from the forest trail, the hike takes you around the lake and through sweeping forests, where autumn’s deep reds and burnt oranges are on full display.
There’s also a beautiful cascading waterfall near the route. If you want to see it, it does mean adding a further 1.2 miles to the 5.5-mile Fragrance Lake forest trail, but the reward is more than worth it.
And, unlike other routes in the area, such as Stimpson Nature Reserve, this route is also dog-friendly. Just be sure to keep your four-legged friend on a leash.
This route is popular with families, despite the 1,000-foot elevation gain. But, a great way to break up the route is by bringing a picnic. This way you can stop off at a picturesque spot to relax and eat lunch while you take in the views.
4. Yellow Aster Butte
With views of Canada, sweeping meadows and plenty of colorful foliage to admire in fall, the trail to Yellow Aster Butte is one of the most popular hikes near Bellingham.
It’s a very difficult hike, but the breath-taking views are well worth the 2,500-foot elevation gain. And, the steep climb is definitely a great way to stay in shape!
Right from the trailhead, the route begins an immediate ascent. You’ll then pass through forests and meadows, with a wide variety of flora to take your mind off the strenuous hike.
The 7.5-mile round trip will take you up to over 6,000 feet at the summit of Yellow Aster Butte. From here, you’ll see views of Tomyhoi Peak, Mount Baker, and Mount Shuksan, as well as many more snow-covered peaks on the horizon.
5. Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve
Less than two miles south of the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, you’ll find Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve. This 4.3-mile loop features three well-designed trails, which will take you through the sweeping forests located in the lowland mountains of Whatcom County.
The ‘Lookout’ part of the trail’s name suggests that this Bellingham hike is all about the views. But, Lookout Mountain’s two summits don’t offer as much of a viewpoint as some of the other hikes listed here.
Instead, it’s the stunning wooded forests and cascading waterfalls you pass which make this moderately difficult hike one of the best in the area. And, the trailhead is conveniently located just 20 minutes from downtown Bellingham.
Awesome Bellingham Hikes to Enjoy in The Fall
As these awesome Bellingham hikes show, the area around Whatcom County’s largest city has a wealth of natural beauty to admire all year round. But, the colorful displays of foliage make fall an amazing time of year to really appreciate Bellingham’s natural landscapes.
And now, thanks to Clever Neighbor’s helpful recommendations, all the information you need about hiking in Bellingham is right at your fingertips.
Remember, whether you’re looking for cool things to do in Bellingham or the best places to eat in the city, Clever Neighbor is your local go-to directory!