Hertz Trail –Hike along a wild shoreline of Lake Whatcom


Quick Facts:

Location: western Whatcom County, near Bellingham

Land Agency: Whatcom County Parks

Round Trip: 6.2 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 60 feet

Contact: Whatcom County Parks

Detailed Information: Urban Trails Bellingham (Mountaineers Books)

Notes: Dogs allowed on leash

Access: From Bellingham follow I-5 to Exit 253. Then follow Lakeway Drive east for 1.7 miles bearing left onto Electric Ave. Continue 1.1 miles bearing right onto Northshore Drive. Then drive Northshore Road for 7.2 miles to a road split. Left leads 0.5 mile to trailhead; right leads 0.2 mile to the Wheelchair-accessible trailhead.

Good to Know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, historic, snow free winter hikes, Practice Leave No Trace principles


The Hertz Trail follows an old logging railroad bed along the fairly wild northern shore of massive Lake Whatcom, one of the largest natural lakes in the state. With a near level grade, and wide and smooth tread suitable for jogging strollers and wheelchairs for a much of the way; this trail is ideal for hikers of all ages and abilities. I have taken my toddler son and late 70s parents on this trail with the same results—they loved it.

One of two lovely covered bridges along the trail.

The shores of this lake once bustled with townships, mills, and mines. While homes now dot much of its southern shore, much of the lake’s northeastern shore is protected in parkland. The Hertz Trail is named for a former Bellingham mayor and park’s director—not for how your legs will feel upon completing this gentle hike!

The main trail take off through a dark cool cedar grove for Lake Whatcom. After a short descent, reach the old rail bed and wheelchair access trail. Now head left to an arch made from part of an original trestle once serving this old rail line. Check out the interpretive displays. Then get moving passing numerous beaches popular with pooches and people. The trail is marked with distance posts every half mile. At one mile come to a cascade and a covered bridge spanning the tumbling creek just downstream. Here too find one of the prettiest beaches along the trail. This is a good turning around spot for a short outing. Otherwise continue, soon coming to a section of trail traversing ledges directly along the lake.

Pass beneath sandstone ledges and a remaining section of old trestle. Pass too remnant pockets of old growth forest. Soon after traveling through another covered bridge come to a particularly large Douglas-fir. The wide well-groomed trail then gets a little rougher, but is still generally an easy hike. At 3.1 miles the trail ends. County officials hope to someday extend this trail to Blue Canyon at the lake’s southeast corner. For now however, be content and retrace your steps.

For more detailed information on this trail, and many others in Western Whatcom County, Bellingham, and the Skagit Valley; consult my Urban Trails Bellingham guidebook. The book also has detailed information on all of the trails in the Chuckanut Mountains. Get your copy today!

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