Whatcom Falls Park Is a Refreshing Waterscape in Bellingham

Photos and writing by Nikolaj Lasbo, digital/social marketing manager

Right after a rainstorm is one of my favorite times for a walk through a park — it’s as though nature has been refreshed, washed down with water. Visiting Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham after a recent deluge seemed fitting because water is the centerpiece of this nearby nature.

Whatcom Falls Park at a Glance:

  • 241 acres
  • Four waterfalls
  • 3.5 miles of trails
  • Fishing pond for children 14 and under
  • Tennis courts and athletic fields in upper parking lot
  • Two playgrounds and several picnic shelters, which can be rented

Entering the park from the more popular entrance, you are immediately greeted to the sound of falling water and are soon surrounded by Whatcom Falls and a gorge as you cross a magnificent moss and fern covered stone bridge. The bridge itself makes the trip to the park worthwhile, built in 1939 with Works Progress Administration dollars and constructed with Chuckanut sandstone from a burned-out building in downtown Bellingham.

The Works Progress Administration-built stone bridge crossing Whatcom Creek. 

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The falls in the park are on Whatcom Creek, leading from Lake Whatcom to Bellingham Bay. On June 10, 1999, a buried pipeline burst, spilling 200,000 gallons of gasoline and the creek soon caught fire. 1.5 miles of the creek’s riparian habitat burned and three people died. Agencies continue work on restoration of habitat in the burn area, but as I meander through the park, the physical scars of the disaster aren’t readily apparent — nature can rebound quickly.

At the edge of the pool below Whirlpool Falls.

From the first set of falls, I drop down a trail that leads to Whirlpool Falls — the punch-bowl pool below these falls is a popular swimming hole when it’s warmer. On this wet day, it's not nearly as crowded and I plop down by the water's edge on a rock to take in my surroundings — sounds of water falling, moving over rocks and dripping from trees. And moss clings to trees and rocks, a fellow lover of these wet environs.

Moss clings to rocks and trees alike in this riparian habitat along Whatcom Creek.

Access to Whatcom Falls Park
From I-5: Exit 253, head east on Lakeway Drive. Turn left at light on Kenoyer. Follow road to parking lot and picnic shelters.

Buses serving Whatcom Falls Park: #11 Geneva, #40 Lakeway

More info about the park from the City of Bellingham