This just might be the most popular place for trail running in Bellingham and it’s easy to understand why. It’s extremely scenic with big ole trees and leafy sword ferns, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll see an eagle, osprey, and/or a pileated woodpecker, and as for the running, well there’s a little of everything. Flats, hills, mud, gravel, steep ups and downs, grassy fields—whatever you want. Just pick your poison and hit the trail.
Getting There: Head out Old Fairhaven Parkway and after crossing under I-5 continue climbing up the hill, bearing to the right at the intersection with 36th Street, until you eventually hit the Lake Padden west entrance. Park past the tennis courts near the changing rooms by the swimming area.
2.6-mile Lake Loop
From the parking lot at the swimming area, head toward the lake and take a right on the obvious, wide trail. Stay on this trail all the way around, keeping the lake on your left side and ignoring the many trails that beckon to the right. At 0.3 miles as you enter a heavily wooded area, climb a short hill just after crossing a bridge over Padden Creek. After about a 150-yard climb, follow the main trail as it bears to the left and roller coasters gently over the next 1.3 miles. At 1.6 miles, the trail emerges from the woods near some softball fields. From here it’s a flat mile back to the parking lot.
For more fun than you can shake a stick at, just after cresting that 150-yard hill right after crossing Padden Creek, continue straight and continue climbing for about another 300 yards. Take a left at a four-way intersection. From here, run wherever you want. Trails seem to head off in all directions, so feel free to improvise. With Lake Padden and Lake Padden golf course to the north, and I-5 to the south, it’s almost impossible to get lost. Caution: watch for mountain bikers and equestrians.
Padden Gorge Trail
Just before Padden Creek, turn right on a new, wide, slightly downhill gravel trail that follows the creek for about a mile to 34th Street. A side loop to the left after about three-quarters of a mile offers another alternative.