In such a picturesque place – with the mountains, the ocean, the forest, the lakes and rivers – it’s hard to not find a pretty view wherever you go. Just walking through downtown Bellingham can offer you a hidden waterfall. Or going through Ferndale can offer up unique swamp terrain. Still, there are some hikes that yield unforgettable, incomparable beauty. Here are the best hikes with a view in Whatcom County, organized from shortest to longest. Enjoy!

Marine Drive Park

This park is small and quiet, located along the railroad tracks. But it offers up a unique view of the city. You can see the islands, ocean, the arboretum and downtown, all covered in green trees. Hiking here is also fun. Walk along the beach as far as you wish making your way south toward Locust Beach or north towards Lummi Island. Enjoy the tropical foliage and sand beneath your toes.

Artist Point

Marine Drive Park’s sweeping panorama during sunset – on the left you can see Bellingham sprawling in the trees and on the right you can see the beach and islands. Photo credit: Taylor Bailey.

While this viewpoint could take you over an hour to get to, it can be done while sitting in a vehicle and enjoying the passing views. Once you get to the top, you’ll be met with stunning mountain peaks, bright green meadows, blue mineral lakes and some of the best sights in the world. There are lots of short hikes in the surrounding area but even from the parking lot, you’ll be blown away. In the winter, bring along some snowshoes and turn this into an icy adventure.

Alabama Hill

One of the teaser views of the San Juan Islands you can find while hiking up Burnout. Photo credit: Taylor Bailey.

Right in Bellingham, you can have a gorgeous view overlooking the ocean, islands and the rest of the city. Follow Railroad trail, accessed from either Bloedel Donovan or Memorial Parks. Then walk the 3.2 miles between the two. Before and after the Alabama Hill Overpass, you can enjoy marsh birds and other wildlife.

Galbraith Mountain

There are two great views you can get from this mountain. The first is a short hidden walk from Birch Street. The second is a longer hike up to tower trail. Both hikes offer up great views of Bellingham and the surrounding areas.

Raptor Ridge

From Burnout both the San Juan Islands and Mount Baker are visible. Photo credit: Taylor Bailey.

This overlook has a fun hike up to the top, with the steep part right at the end. Once at the top, you break on to a rock face, looking out at the thousands of trees below you. You feel as though you are in the middle of a serene, isolated wilderness (even though you’re only a mile or two from your car). It is immensely satisfying to bring a book or some snacks and sit up there in the middle of all this nature. The height of the overlook allows you to see the valley below and further rising hills, making it a rare find as you can’t really see signs of civilization. This is one of the lesser-traveled hikes too, really emphasizing the nature around you.


Probably one of the least-known of all these viewpoints, Burnout is a one and a half mile trek through a canopy of rainforest-like trees, with spots exposing the panoramic views of the San Juan Islands. When you reach the top, you’ll find a 360-degree field of vision, with Mount Baker and the surrounding peaks to one side, sweeping forests around that and the San Juan Islands on the other side. Taking photos here will never reveal just how spectacular the views are, and will frustrate you as you try to get both Mount Baker and the Ocean in one shot. This is one that you do not want to miss.

Stewart Mountain

Mount Baker can be seen from the High Divide Trail. Photo credit: Taylor Bailey.

For sweeping views of Lake Whatcom, the ocean and the islands, this is one of the best viewpoints. You gain about 3,369 feet during this hike and continuously get breathtaking views of the lake – all teasing the unbeatable views from the top.

Oyster Dome

Oyster Dome is one of the most popular hikes for a reason. It has a scenic overlook of the ocean and islands on one side and a glimpse at the massive forests on the other. You can sit on the rock at the top and soak in sun rays, relaxing after the five-mile hike up, watching ships sailing between the islands or the bald eagles soaring above.

Excelsior Peak and the High Divide

A gorgeous setting for a hike, Excelsior Pass is a spectacular choice for anyone wanting an adventure. Try to spot my small tent in this photo with massive hills, mountains and trees. Photo credit: Taylor Bailey.

Up on the Mount Baker Highway, before you reach Artist Point, you’ll find a small parking area and trailhead for Excelsior Pass. Though the hike can be a bit challenging, I was able to do it with a heavy backpack on my back (and I’m not the best hiker). When you break out of the shaded part of the hike, through the trees and into the world of sunshine, you’ll greet views that you’d expect from the French Alps – meadows, flowers, distant snow-capped peaks. Keep following the trail and you will keep being blown away. The colors at this high altitude seem to be brighter, and the air seems fresher; it’s surreal that we live a simple drive away from such beauty. Go in summer for the greenery and flowers or in fall for the orange and red of falling leaves. Either way, you’ll be so excited that you went.

So head outside and experience these amazing viewpoints for yourself. While you’re at it, take some time to go exploring. Just be sure to stop and enjoy the view.

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