Lake Whatcom Park WA & The Hertz Trail - Bellingham Washington
Lake Whatcom Park, Whatcom County's 8,844 acre nature preserve is
one of the largest local parks in the U.S. and perhaps one of the
best ways to explore Lake Whatcom's Eastern shore, although much of
the preserve not yet open to the public.
Located only 11 miles east of Downtown Bellingham near the end of
North Shore Drive, Lake Whatcom Park offers visitors both lakeside
and mountain trails to explore. There is free parking and restrooms at the trail head. (Bellinghamsters Are Great People But Be
Sure To Lock Your Car And Keep Valuables Out Of Sight)
The Hertz Trail is an EZ and mostly shaded trail that traces the
shoreline of Lake Whatcom South towards the site of the old Blue
Canyon Mine. The trail itself is a "Tracks to Trail" scenario that
uses the old steam train right-of-way that once hauled coal from the
mines to waiting ships at Bellingham's waterfront.
The Hertz Trail
The Hertz Trail is about as easy a trail as you can find
in the Bellingham area, making it great for the whole family. The steepest
portion of the train is the first segment of the trail leading from the
parking area down to the lakeside where you will find a covered pavilion
with a story board chronically a brief history of Lake Whatcom's Mining and
Logging past including logjams, landslides, and gatherings at the "White
City" amusement park located at the north end of the lake.
The trail allows bikes, children, and dogs as long as
they are on a leash but please be sure to bring some pet-poop bags. We
noticed a few piles along the trail, obviously from dogs who's owners were
too caught up admiring the beautiful lake views to notice what their dog was
doing. You could kick these piles into the lake but please remember that the
Lake is Bellingham's drinking water. Why not instead be a hero and bring a
few extra dog bags with you on your walk--they're free at the trailhead so
Hertz trail itself is 3.1 miles long, however it's really a 6.2 mile trail
if you plan on making it back to your car. Some people may find the idea of
hiking a trail difficult but even if you aren't a super-fit trail blazer you
should find the trail an easy challenge.
There are a number of benches along the way to rest or
just take in the beautiful views across the lake and you can go as little or
as far as you like. Bring some bottled water and a snack if you plan on
staying a while and be sure to bring your camera as well because there are a
lot of great vantage points along the way.
One Mile Marker On The Hertz Trail
One popular destination is about a third of the way on
the Hertz Trail. You'll find a covered bridge, lakefront bench and
waterfalls to admire and they make a great turning around point for those wanting a
shorter 2 mile trek.
The covered bridge serves a number of purposes but the
main reason it's a covered bridge is to help extend it's life by protecting the lower bridge
itself from rotting out. This unique covered bridge will get
over the small stream but it can also be used as a shelter if you get caught
in a rain storm and want to wait it out--although around here if you're waiting for the rain to stop you could
be there for weeks.
The 1.0 mile bridge is one of two covered
bridges built in 2014 by the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation department. The second bridge is at the 1.75 mark on the trail
and a few feet longer.
There are some published reports that the bridges cost around $7,000 each to
build and seems as though they were built to last.
The Hertz Trail 1.0 Mile Bridge
On the other side of the Hertz Trail Bridge you'll find the 1.0 mile trail
marker and from there on the trail seems to change a bit in character with
some areas of large boulders and rocky hillsides on the mountain side. There
are also further remnants of the old Bellingham Bay & Eastern Railroad like
old wooden pilings in the water and concrete bulkheads along the lakeside.
Look across the
lake an you will notice Camp Firwood Summer Camp and
the 3 acre Reveille Island
owned by Camp Firwood.
might have imagined the little island was
apparently held in high regard by local Indians who may have held
As you continue your way on the trail It seems to get more interesting for the next mile or so and then
you'll notice the surroundings become a bit more rustic. The south end of the lake is much less
populated and less developed giving it an unspoiled natural feel.
Watch Out For Kokanee
The stream running under the Hertz Trail 1.0 Mile bridge is visited by fresh water Salmon each fall
as they make their way upstream to spawn. We would like to return in the
fall to see these elusive Kokanee Sockeye Salmon because just a few hundred
feet upstream from the bridge is a high waterfall that these little fish
couldn't possibly make their way up. It would be sad to think this covered bridge
may be the end of the line for them. It could be the last thing they see if
they go up the wrong creek.
There is a Kokanee fish hatchery at the south end of Lake Whatcom
operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that has
been raising fishlets for over 100 years. Apparently Brannian Creek
is the main attraction for Kokanee in Lake Whatcom. Brannian Creek
produces the highest number of hatchery-spawned Kokanee fish in the country.
The Kokanee Salmon raised at the Lake Whatcom hatchery are used to stock 36 lakes around Washington State. It's not
known if any of these fish ever find their way home to Lake Whatcom
but anything's possible?
DID YOU KNOW? Kokanee is an Okanagan Indian Language word for land-locked lake
populations of Sockeye Salmon.
Whatcom - A Pristine Glacier Carved Lake And True Natural Wonder
Lake Whatcom is Washington State's 4th largest natural lake and perhaps
one of it's most beautiful, from it's Northern end with it's million dollar
homes and parks to it's less populated Southern end. The clear and clean
waters of Lake Whatcom provides recreational opportunities for residents as
well as fresh drinking water for over 88,000 thirsty residents of Bellingham
and Whatcom County.
approximately 11 mile long natural lake was carved by glaciers during the
last Ice Age and like many glacier carved lakes, Lake Whatcom is deep. In
Loch Ness is almost exactly twice as long and twice as deep as Lake Whatcom
at approximately 22 miles long and 700+ ft deep. (It's probably safe to
presume that any strange creatures living in the lake are twice as large as
One interesting feature about Lake Whatcom is even though it's located
high in the hills above Bellingham, it's so deep that the bottom of the lake
is actually 35 ft below sea level. The surface of the Lake is 315 ft however
the deepest areas of the lake are about 350 ft.
Lake Whatcom is divided into three distinct basins with very different
depths. The north end of the lake within the city limits of Bellingham
has a maximum depth of 100 ft. The mid portion of the lake near
Strawberry point to Sudden Valley, across to Agate Bay is up to 60 ft deep,
and as most fisherman know or anyone with a boat with a depth sounder knows,
the Southern end of the lake is the deepest at 350 ft. In fact the
Southern Basin also holds over 90% of all the water in Lake Whatcom.
To Lake Whatcom Park / Hertz Trail
Drive east on Alabama Street to the top of the hill.
Turn Left On North Shore Drive
Continue as the Road Winds Around A Small
Neighborhood Strip Mall And Convenience Store. (Site of the old "White
City" Amusement Park and Roller Coaster).
The road name changes to North Shore
"ROAD".-- Continue for 5.4 miles then follow signs to the left into
Lake Whatcom Park.
Lake Whatcom Park is basically located midway on
the Eastern Shore of Lake Whatcom opposite the Sudden Valley Marina
and Reville Island.
Trail Etiquette On The Lake
When you think of hiking in nature and getting away from it all
you may think of fresh air, birds and trees. When you're sharing a
trail with others there are a few things you can do to make the
experience more enjoyable both for you and others you may encounter
on at trail.
Litter & Butts - Pack it in / Pack it out. nobody wants to step
around someone's old cigarette butts, roach, trail bar wrappers or
Watch your noise levels - People go hiking to hear the wind
through the trees and the birds singing, not other people chatting
on their cell phone or playing wrap music on their radio.
Be courteous - Say a simple hello to fellow hikers you meet and
then give other parties some space. Taking a 3 minute break may be
all you need to get some distance between you and other hikers. And
if you need to pass others then do it quickly and be on your way.
While there are no posted warnings about immediate threats from bears at
Lake Whatcom Park, when you are hiking in the wilderness or at the edge of
any wild area in Washington there is a possibility you could encounter local
wildlife, including Eagles, Coyotes, cougers and bears.
Washington has an estimated Black Bear population of 30,000 and while
bears prefer to avoid people, confrontations can happen. The North
Cascades is Black Bear Country and Bear hunting is even allowed in
Whatcom County. There is a 2 bear kill maximum per hunting year so
there are still plenty of bears around.
If you encounter a bear there is no way you can outrun it so don't
even try because it will just cause it to chase you. Bears can charge
you at close distances at 30 miles per hour. It is best to stay calm
and retreat slowly if possible. If an attack appears eminent you may
want to climb a tree at least 33 feet high. The bear could still climb
the tree and pull you out of it but more than likely the bear won't
want to bother if you no longer appear to be a threat.
There are Bear Bells you can buy to wear while you are hiking to warn
unsuspecting bears you are approaching. They can be purchased online
for about $6.00 or possibly in a local outdoor sporting store.
If a bear makes contact and actually attacks you be sure to protect
your neck and face if possible and use any means of defense you can
find including pepper spray, pocket knife or legal firearm. We suggest
you visit the
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Website for more
information about bears and suggestions about what to do if you should
encounter one in the wild.
Zip Codes For Blaine Wa 98230 & 9823 Population: Approximately 5000