In 2011, I was racing in the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia and then 3 weeks later, I was racing the Club Cross Country Championships in Seattle. My husband and I looked at a map of where to stay that was right in the middle of these two locations and it happened to be Bellingham, Washington. During our three week stay we fell in love with the area; the mountains, the trails, the Bay, the food. We went back home to West Virginia, packed up everything we owned in a POD, said bye to Mom and Dad and moved to the great Pacific Northwest. Fast forward four years and we own a home, have fulfilling careers, and are surrounded by a supportive community. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
The northwest is (in)famous for its never-ending rain and dreary cloud-cover, but the truth is it really doesn’t rain any more than it does on the east coast. With the exception of this Winter, it hardly ever snows at sea level which means year-round access to the trails. But if snow is what you want, just drive an hour to Mt. Baker which holds the world record for the most snow in one year (1,140 inches/95 feet). The summers are filled with blue-bird skies and perfect 65-70 degree temperatures. No sticky humidity!
Where to Run:
Two of my favorite trails in Bellingham are on Chuckanut Mountain, located in Larrabee State Park. The other favorite trail being the Hertz Trail on North Lake Whatcom.
The Rock Trail – Larrabee State Park
The Rock Trail is a recent addition to the trail system. Though not the fastest due to many stairs, it is one of the most unique. The 2.4 mile trail has 100-foot high sandstone cliffs with caves and mossy boulders. It’s a steep climb, but short and sweet.
Chuckanut Ridge Trail – Larrabee State Park
I have a love-hate relationship with the iconic Ridge Trail. I love it because the views on a clear day are ever-impressive, but I hate it because it is technical and requires a lot of skill and patience to navigate.
Hertz Trail – North Lake Whatcom
In addition to Chuckanut, I also love to run on the Hertz Trail on North Lake Whatcom. This is where I go for a peaceful flat recovery run. It is 3 miles out and back alongside the lake. You’re completely surrounded by old-growth trees and hear nothing but the lapping of waves right beside you.
Pre and Post Run Food:
Bellingham has a ridiculous amount of breweries, but my favorite place to meet up with friends and get a bite to eat is at Aslan Brewing Company. They have a new beer release every Friday and a seasonal menu that highlights local cuisine.
For a post-long run brunch I recommend Old Town Café. They have the most delicious egg or tofu scrambles, whole wheat pancakes and many other healthful options. There is truly something for everyone here. Just be prepared to wait, especially on the weekend!
Where to Shop:
Our local running shop is Fairhaven Runners & Walkers. You really get a feel of how deep the running community in Bellingham is when you visit Fairhaven Runners. The shop holds weekly runs, monthly fitness forums, clinics and screenings.
If you have plans to come up to the Seattle area, I encourage you to drive the 90 minutes north on I-5 to Bellingham. I’m happy to personally give you a tour of our “City of Subdued Excitement.” You can reach out to me at [email protected]. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself packing your bags and heading west… I warned you.
Trail Sisters Strava Club:
Track Goals, Share Runs, Build Camaraderie – Click here to join.