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Lake Whatcom Park - Hertz Trail

Puget Sound and Islands > Bellingham Area
48.7302, -122.3090 Map & Directions
6.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
100 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Waterfalls
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Old growth
  • Good for kids
  • Lakes
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

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Enjoy lakeside views and the surrounding hills plus waterfalls and giant old Douglas-fir trees from an old railroad grade of the Bellingham Bay & Eastern Railway that borders the southeast shore of Lake Whatcom. Continue reading

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Hiking Lake Whatcom Park - Hertz Trail

Accessible year-round and with only 100 feet of elevation gain, this trail is a comfortable walk, run or bike along the lakeshore. There are also plenty of distractions along the way: streams, waterfalls, and lake views. In autumn, the trees blaze with color, reflecting in the lake's surface.

From the trailhead, you'll head south for nearly 3 miles on a flat route, the former Bellingham Bay & Eastern Railway. 

A half mile in, an interpretive kiosk shares some history of the area. In another half mile, stop for a selfie in front of a large, glistening waterfall. Press on. At the 2.5-mile mark, gigantic old-growth trees line the path. You’ll also see coves and beaches along the water’s edge that will allow you to get off the main trail for tranquil solitude.

The wideness of the path and the gentleness of the grade make it a great multi-use trail, so be prepared to share it with runners and mountain bikers, as well as fellow hikers. This trail makes a great leg-stretcher or all day adventure, where you can dawdle as long as you like along the trail, before heading back the way you came.

There are currently eight miles of trails to hike at Lake Whatcom Park as well as another eight along a forest road, with many more planned for the years ahead. Interestingly, the park offers two very different trails that access different habitat types. Visit the Chanterelle Trail for another vibe entirely.

Note on the Area

In 2014, with facilitation by Whatcom Land Trust and a number of other organizations, approximately 8,800 acres of second-growth forest and stream habitat on the east and west sides of Lake Whatcom were transferred from the Department of Natural Resources to Whatcom County.

The land is immediately adjacent to Lake Whatcom so this move not only created the seventh largest local park in the U.S., it also protects the water quality of the lake, which serves as the drinking water supply for half of Whatcom County, including all of Bellingham.

The county is managing the area for non-motorized recreation with running, hiking, biking and horseback trails that connect neighborhoods and communities through forests that will eventually mature into old-growth ecosystems. WTA has been developing the trail system here since then, with annual work parties in partnership with several local and state agencies. 

Toilet Information

  • Toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

WTA worked here in 2019 and 2017!

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Lake Whatcom Park - Hertz Trail

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.7302, -122.3090 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee


WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From I-5, take Exit 254 and turn right onto Iowa Street. Make the first left you can onto Pacific Street, and proceed down Pacific Street to the next major street; Alabama (about four blocks). Turn right onto Alabama Street and follow it to the end, where it "T"s with Northshore Drive. Turn left onto Northshore Drive and follow it around the head of the lake and down the eastern shore, staying on Northshore Road at all forks, until arriving at a fork where both branches are for Northshore Road. Take the left branch and cross Smith Creek. Just past Smith Creek, arrive at the parking lot and the trailhead. Park here, and take the path on the right down to the trail.

More Hike Details


Puget Sound and Islands > Bellingham Area

Whatcom County Parks

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Lake Whatcom Park - Hertz Trail

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