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The South Bay Trail is a tourist's dream and a sweet summer spot for locals. The small city of Bellingham, 20 miles from the Canadian border, lies between 10,781-foot Mount Baker and Bellingham Bay and is home to Western Washington University. You'll find easy access to San Juan Island cruises and the Alaska Inside Passage cruise, as well as access to Vancouver, British Columbia.
In the early 1890s, this former line of the Bellingham Bay and Eastern Railroad hauled coal, logs, and lumber from 68 mills to developing West Coast cities. Today, the 2.5-mile trail provides an easy waterfront tour between downtown and the artisan community of Fairhaven, home to many shops, cafés, farmers' markets, and the Fairhaven Village Green, site of weekly outdoor summer movies and music. Two trails—the Interurban and Railroad—connect at either end of the trail.
You can access the trail in Fairhaven and from anywhere in Boulevard Park. Parking, restrooms, and water are available in the park. A southward journey takes you over the bay via Pattle Point trestle and historic Taylor Dock. A northward trip winds you through Boulevard Park, past a waterfront coffee shop (with Wi-Fi), pocket beaches, and play areas, and across tracks (cross carefully). The linear park trail makes for a peaceful journey among trees and foliage, with intermittent views of the bay, Lummi Island, and the San Juan Islands. You'll pass through the residential outskirts of the restaurant and retail district and arrive downtown, with cafés, a brewery, and other entertainment spots.
The trail ends at Maple Street, just west of Railroad Avenue, where you'll find a farmers' market (open Saturdays), art walks, and the sweet ambience of the area surrounding Western Washington University campus.
To access the trail in Fairhaven from Interstate 5, take Exit 250 for State Route 11/Old Fairhaven Parkway toward Chuckanut Drive. Head west on Connelly Avenue/Old Fairhaven Parkway/SR 11 S, and continue for 1.4 miles. Continue straight onto Donovan Avenue, and then continue to the right onto 10th Street for 0.2 mile to Mill Avenue. Parking is available near Fairhaven Village Green.
To access the trail in Boulevard Park, take I-5 to Exit 250. Head west on Connelly Avenue/Old Fairhaven Parkway/SR 11 S for 1.5 miles, and turn right at the 12th Street light. In 0.2 mile, bear left onto Finnegan Way, which becomes 11th Street. In 0.5 mile, turn left onto Bayview Drive into Boulevard Park.
To reach the northern terminus at Maple Street, take I-5 to Exit 253 heading toward Lakeway Drive. Turn right onto King Street. Turn right onto Lakeway Drive. In 0.4 mile, take a slight right onto E. Holly Street. After about 0.3 mile, turn left onto Railroad Avenue and look for parking along the side as you head toward Maple Street.
I really enjoyed this bike trail; It has a breathtaking view and my bike ride was refreshing! The trail was short but I biked it twice. I can't wait to go again!
This is a great open trail that is easy to loop a few times. Also running next to the water is amazing
My first of five bike tours was to pedal from downtown Bellingham to Whatcom Falls Park to Whatcom Lake and return downtown by the Railroad Bikeway (Bloedel Park to Memorial Park); continued on to the South Bay Waterfront trail to Fairhaven where I had dinner. The South Bay trail is fun but a bit short and may have many walkers and children but has great views.
The South Bay Trail – Bellingham
The South Bay Trail is short but fun. It’s a great for family and kids.
The South Bay is quite a change from riding miles and miles of trails in the woods. This one is urban and waterfront and there is a lot going on. It connects to the Interurban and Lower Padden Creek Trails. You can get some mileage in if you want it. Ride out to Larrabee State Park on the Interurban or take a tour of the waste water treatment plant on the Lower Padden or just hang in the lower Fairhaven District, latte up and check out the shops, restaurants and bistros.
The smart move is to try to get a parking spot at Boulevard Park on the waterfront (GPS: N48 43.865 W122 30.179) and stage out of there. This is a nice waterfront park – and very popular. Some parking was open there mid morning and mid week on our trip. Gone by lunchtime. On a weekend it must be a zoo.
Since the trail is short, ride up to the trail end at the north end of the trail and head back down. There is no trail head on the north end. There is assorted on-street parking. The trail starts off E. Laurel St. by way of N. State St. (GPS: N48 44.751 W122 28.932). The surface varies from blacktop here to one lane compacted gravel to blacktop again, concrete, etc. It all rides well.
From the north end to Boulevard Park you get framed or filtered views of Bellingham Bay. Lot of boats anchored along the shore here. Inside the park the trail runs along the water on a nice path with numerous benches, each with a view.
Restrooms, water, trash and a coffee shop are at GPS: N48 43.865 W122 30.179. Very civilized. Get something and sit out on the deck overlooking the bay and enjoy. It’s quite a change from the usual portapotties out in the woods.
TAYLOR DOCK TRESTLE AND PLAZA...
Continue SW on the trail and you hit the first small trestle over the tidelands. The next one is more fun. It takes you out over the water to Taylor Dock where there is a fishing float below, a picnic shelter on the dock, lots of benches and a 10% grade up to the shore.
At the top of the grade is an informal, but well-equipped trail head with views. If Boulevard Park is filled, try here. There is a nice plaza with views, benches, a double handicap restroom, drinking fountain and parking. No parking here? Check up the street a block. Nice thing about the restrooms – you can roll your bike in with room to spare to keep an eye on it.
FAIRHAVEN VILLAGE GREEN...
From the plaza the trail goes on the street for about a half block, then back on the trail to dump out across the street from the Lower Fairhaven District Village Green (GPS: N48 43.246 W122 30.250). There is a large parking lot adjacent to the trail here and more around the district, so this is another place you can stage from. Restored brick buildings, bistros, shops, restaurants … the district looks like a lot of fun. Today they were holding a market on the green.
From the Green there are two blocks of on-street riding (bike lane), then the trail is back on gravel for a short bit to end at the corner of Donovan Ave. and 10th St. (GPS: N48 43.053 W122 30.269). No trail head here – but a confluence of the South Bay, Interurban and Lower Padden Creek trails.
The maps are not clear on where the South Bay ends and the Interurban starts, so I figure it ends where it hits the pavement on Donovan Ave.
Across the street the Interurban begins by diving down into the ravine. Backtrack a bit on the South Bay and you have the start of the Lower Padden Creek Trail – or Larrabee Trail on some maps. (What’s in a name? Larrabee is a park seven miles south and this is the Padden Creek drainage, so I use Padden Creek.)
If you are headed down Padden Creek, make sure there is no one headed up – then let it happen. I was doing 22.1 mph down that grade – with braking - and thinking – gotta go full suspension next year. This trail is narrower than the South Bay - basically urban single track in ½” gravel and short sight lines, so watch for other users.
It leads you to a circumnavigation of the city “waste water treatment plant” (“sewage plant” is not P.C.). This was somewhat low on my list of things to do, so I checked out the “When You Flush” display at the small trail head there (GPS: N48 43.109 W122 30.701), then headed back to Boulevard Park via Harris Ave. and the Village Green.
Want another option? Stage out of the Marine Park at the end of Harris Ave. (GPS: N48 43.182 W122 30.951) and ride up Harris to do the Lower Padden Creek, the Interurban or the South Bay Trail You have choices for some fun rides.
On the ToolBear Triple Trail Rating Scale ( F to A) … A/B/A
A = Facilities. The facilities at Taylor Dock and Boulevard Park are excellent.
B = Trail bed. The surface materials vary, but the trail rides well.
A = Scenery. Lots of interesting scenery from waterfront views to the Fairhaven District.
@@@ DO IT AGAIN?
Certainly. This was a fun trail to explore. Did not make much time. Too busy checking out the views, etc. However, connect this to the Interurban and you have a great ride out to the Arroyo Crossing or all the way down to the Clayton Beach Trailhead at Larrabee State Park. This is a fine t trail for a family ride.
Total miles - 3.0 (some backtracking), Max speed – 14.5, Moving time – 0:41, Moving average – 4.4, Total ascent – 206’, Max elevation – 82’.
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