With our ever-shortening daylight hours, it’s a wonderful treat to get outside when the sun is high in the sky. Dappled sunlight streaming through the trees in all their fall glory is especially easy to behold in Whatcom Falls Park.
Begin by exploring the most easterly section of Whatcom Creek starting from its source, Lake Whatcom. Ample parking is available on Electric Avenue where it intersects with Alabama Street. The flat gravel trail initially passes by cattail filled Scudder Pond before coming upon it’s first major intersection (1/2 mile past the starting point). From here turn left and cross the nearby footbridge that’s just downstream from Lake Whatcom’s control dam where water passes before entering Whatcom Creek.
Head downstream where, initially, you’ll pass an old wood railroad tressel and a short section of creek where a course is set for whitewater kayakers to practice when the control dam allows enough water to flow through. Shortly thereafter you’ll encounter the duck inhabited Derby Pond. For approximately 100 meters follow the road that winds through the park before you can choose to make a short detour through the fish hatchery. From here the roar of water will lead you to the spectacular Whatcom Falls. You’ll cross the creek using the 1939 built Chuckanut sandstone bridge constructed as a New Deal Works project. Your neck might get a workout on the bridge as you’re torn between two amazing views, the awe inspiring falls or the tranquil canopied scene of the downstream corridor.
Once across the bridge take the Lower Gorge Trail, which meanders just next to the creek and passes above our local wonder, “The Whirlpool” (with it’s own diminutive falls), before climbing stairs up to the main trail. From here turn left and again stay left when you get to the next split in the trail.
The path will turn downward as the creek begins to plunge more sharply into the gorge. The creek won’t be visible to you for about ½ mile until you reach two observation overlooks where you can view the devastation and continued recovery of the creek area after the 1999 pipeline fire. A very short distance later you’ll find yourself at the top of a long, steep stairway that leads to Woburn Street. Personally, this is where my knees always say it’s time to turn around. However, if you are more hearty, you can navigate the stairs before hooking onto the next section of the Whatcom Creek Trail.