Personal tools
You are here: Home News Scat! Our blog Hike the missing links!
Document Actions
  • Email this page
  • Print this
  • Bookmark and Share

Hike the missing links!

Posted by Erin Moore at May 09, 2013 05:15 PM |

Visiting the new Lake Whatcom forest park caught me off guard. I couldn't help being reduced to simple exclamations. “Cool! How amazingly cool.”

Hike the missing links!

Old snag along the Mount Stewart trail above Lake Whatcom: legacy of past old growth foretells the future in our biggest new local park. Photo: Erin Moore

Hiking the soon-to-be Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park caught me off guard. I couldn't help being reduced to simple exclamations. "Cool, how amazingly cool!"

GETTING THERE: The Mount Stewart trail heads to your left from the upper parking lot of the North Lake Whatcom trailhead, some 14 miles from Bellingham city limits. Switchback through diverse forest at a relaxed grade to cross onto the Wickersham Truck Road, which ascends the mountain (but is closed to public vehicles). Stay on the road for just 50 feet before reentering the forest on the continuing trail on your right. This trail segment takes you right up toward the top of the mountain for big territorial views. Follow the road back, or return along the trail.

It was the time of day when wildlife are most active and the polarized sunlight drapes everything in gold. Hummingbirds zipped overhead, visiting flowering red currants. A towhee scratched busily in the forest litter, a bullfrog croaked loudly in one of the many rivulets, and I startled a deer as we were both heading back down into the forest.

A dog barked in the distance, followed by the long song of the old-growth loving winter wren. The two sounds together reminded me that this rich forest is an urban park. And now, more than that, a new county park, and the biggest local park in Washington.

Maybe that day I had begun channeling the Whatcom County Parks' trail guru, Tom Chisholm, who has a lot to say about it. He’s excited about the changeover of this part of the watershed into county hands.

The park is in two parcels: Mount Stewart and Lookout Mountain, forested state lands slated for reconveyance to the county for this historic preserve. "They were the missing links," Tom tells me. "With them, the Cascadia vision is gaining a foothold.”

That trail up Mount Stewart winds through beautiful forest, including very old trees left behind during the years of logging. The trail takes you through this “legacy” old growth, big old snags, and layered understories of salmonberry and ferns, all amid lovely, older second growth of mossy big leaf maple, alder, Doug fir, hemlock, and cedar.

A big part of Tom Chisholm's job will be to partner with user groups, like the local WHIMPs cycling group (who were key to success of the new park), nonprofits, and agencies to plan new and existing trails. "It’s going to be a lot of fun," notes Tom, "especially on Lookout Mountain, with its existing trail system.”

"This network of trails is going to influence our area culturally,” says Tom. (And economically: recreation is a powerful force.) “Think of it: you’ll be able to catch a bus to the base of Lookout or Stewart, head out to camp overnight, and come out somewhere else. Imagine creating a hut system on the Chuckanuts, Lookout Mountain, and Mount Stewart. What a cool thing!”

He elaborates. Thanks to the new park, you can now start at Larabee State Park on the bay, circle inland and east to Blanchard Mountain, cross under I-5 at South Lake Samish, and press onward to Squires Lake and Galbraith at the south terminus of Lookout Mountain. Next, continue to Lake Padden, followed by a trek on the gorge trail to cross under the interstate at Old Fairhaven Parkway. Then there is just a half mile of sidewalk to the Interurban Trail, and from there back into the Chuckanuts to end back at Larabee. Wow.

Blanchard, Chuckanuts, Lookout, Stewart, city park trails…. Eventually this could link all the way to North Cascades and Mount Baker wilderness. "Here we are, with a community centered on natural beauty and recreation," Tom says, “and an urban area with the stature of a national park!” Tell me that isn’t cool.

Document Actions
powered by Plone | site by Groundwire Consulting and served with clean energy