Of course I was disappointed to leave Colombia early and miss out on the rest of South America, but I was also thrilled by the chance to get reacquainted with the trails and backroads around Bellingham, WA. Having lived there from 1998-2002, I had vague memories of the trails around Galbraith, Chuckanut and Blanchard. Now exploring these trails 12 years later, I realised that I had completely underestimated how far things progressed with the sport and how much trail building had been done whilst I was away.
Both Kona and Transition are based in Ferndale, just a few miles from Bellingham. The area has a heritage of mountain biking and the place is full of high-end, freshly muddied bikes. Just looking on Bellingham Craigslist gives an idea of the number of local riders. Several pro racers train on Bellingham trails, often posting their jaw dropping tracks on Strava.
I went on more than 20 trail rides over two months exploring Bellingham trails and it was still not enough. I missed some key routes and never got to ride a lot of higher elevation trails due to the snow. I captured all my rides on GPS and combined them in the map below. You can download a GPX file at the link.[wi_everytrail url=”2743920″ title=”Exploring Bellingham Trails”]
Larrabee State Park
The coastal ridges of Chuckanut Mountain and Larrabee State Park offer some of the most scenic riding in the state. The trails are less technical than Galbraith, but with more dramatic landscapes, geological features and several lookouts perched above the San Juan Islands to the west and views of Mt. Baker and other peaks to the east.
Back in 2000, Galbraith was a much smaller place. I found my dad’s paper map of Galbraith from 1999 showing our old favourites. Comparing that with the latest trail map shows the extent to which it has grown. I rode a fair portion of the new trails and was astonished by the amount of work done to create this veritable labyrinth. These trails range in skill levels and riding style from traditional XC to more modern AM, FR, slopestyle and a few DH runs. Fortunately, there’s no free ride to the top and this seems to keep the number of gravity park riders to the minimum!
The Hub Community Bike Shop
Just before leaving Bellingham, I decided to fix up our bikes with some new and used spares. The Hub Community Bike Shop in Bellingham is a non-profit organisation promoting cycling in the community. They provide great resource to cyclists in the community offering refurbished bikes, spare parts, expertise and use of tools at very reasonable prices.
Bellingham Trail Maps & Resources
- The Hub Community Bike Shop – I can’t emphasise enough how great this place is!
- Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC) – the WMBC crew organise the trail building and mountain biking events in the community. Check their forum for trail status updates and events.
- Galbraith Mountain – This vast network of technical, purpose built trails remains one of the most popular destinations in the Northwest for all types of riding, from traditional XC to AM, FR and DH. You can support the WMBC by purchasing their excellent map of Galbraith here.
- Chuckanut Trail System (map) – Decent overall map of Larrabee and Blanchard, including some newly proposed trails which might be finished when you read this.
- Chuckanut Mountain Park (map) – The Whatcom County Parks website provides some descriptions and basic maps for Chuckanut and Larrabee trails.
- Bellingham City Trail Guide (map) – this is mainly for interurban trails, but does show a good overall layout of some main trailheads.