The Interurban Trail is a beautiful, 13 mile roundtrip pathway for runners and casual cyclists on a wide, flat trail from Bellingham's Fairhaven District to the end of the county line at Larrabee State Park.
More locally known as The Urb, this is perhaps the most well-known trail in all of Bellingham. The Interurban Trail, starting right from the Fairhaven District of Bellingham, goes south all the way to Larrabee State Park. The Urb is mostly flat, offers great views of the Bellingham Bay as it roughly follows the coastline from above, and is considered the gateway into the Chuckanut Mountain trails. It is 6.6 miles from point to point, making it roughly a 13 mile out-and-back route when done from the very beginning. But the multiple access points allow you to jump on - or off - the path at any point.
What Makes It Great
How many road runs are lucky enough to be packed with dirt and gravel? You know your city's got its trail system figured out when a nearly 7 mile road run follows an old rail bed and is kind enough on the legs to be both hard-packed dirt & gravel and flat. The wide trail is perfect for runners of all speeds and levels, bikers, and walkers. It is cut into the base of the Chuckanut Mountains, and most of the Chuckanut's best single track runs and hikes are trailheads accessed via The Urb. What really makes it so great though is how continuously flat it is. Occasionally there is a slight incline, but besides two short "rollercoaster" up and downs, the entire pathway is more or less flat. That makes it perfect for a road runner looking to go far without burning up in the hills, someone looking to keep the pace high, or anyone who just wants an easy, casual run or ride.
The accessibility of The Urb makes it an easy and excellent trail to love. Starting from downtown Fairhaven, the historic district of Bellingham, it has a collection of free parking lots along the way, so you can choose where to start your run/walk/ride. And the views that peek through the trees out over the Bellingham Bay give you glorious shots of places like Teddy Bear Cove, Lummi Island, and more. Good thing the pathway is typically straight, because looking out over the water is irresistible during an evening run.
The two up-and-down portions are nothing serious. The first comes at Arroyo Park: once The Urb crosses you over Old Samish Rd, you drop down into a quick single track shot. Nothing more than a mile total, you follow Chuckanut Creek for a bit before crossing over and then up some short switchbacks before a mellow couple hundred yards takes you back to the wide, flat, Urb trail that lets you pick the speed back up. The other up-and-down section is nicknamed by locals as "The Dip," about 2.5 miles after Arroyo. Merely a 40 yard steep decline followed by a 40 yard steep incline, "The Dip" is the perfect small leg-burner to add to a run if you want to take it fast.
Who is Going to Love It
Though mostly runners and walkers, The Urb is also perfect for a family bike ride for both a cruise or speedy shot over to some single tracks. The Urb is ideal for non-serious runners, as it's lack of hills means you make the run only as hard as you want it to be. The out-and-back nature means you can turn around whenever you want, rather than being stuck somewhere on a loop. Serious runners, though, are common on The Urb as well. It's perfect for a long, increased-effort training tempo, or fast speed intervals. Looking for a recovery run after your workout in the hills over the weekend? The Urb is the flat, easy, milage you need. Western Washington University's Cross Country team uses it for many of their speed workouts throughout summer and fall.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
While the actual birth of The Interurban Trail is 10th St. and Donovan Avenue, there is no specified parking lot. But keep going East along Old Fairhaven Parkway from downtown Fairhaven, and just before the intersection of 20th St. and Old Fairhaven Parkway will be an Interurban Trailhead parking lot and access point. Another popular spot to park is a little further East along Old Fairhaven Parkway, turn right onto 24th St. past the Veterinary Clinic. This is a great spot to start the run/walk/ride, and there are some gravel spots, as well as roadside parking. Please don't park in the Vet Clinic, rarely is parking full at this spot.
The beauty of The Urb is that it roughly follows Highway 11 south, commonly known as Chuckanut Drive. Take the popular and scenic Chuckanut Drive (Highway 11) south out of Fairhaven: you will pass by a large parking lot clearly signed as The North Chuckanut Mountain Trailhead. This trailhead gives you access back into the Arroyo Park singletrack portion of The Urb, or shoots you forward and continuing south on the normal, wide trail. A smaller parking lot is roughly 2.5 miles south, at "The Dip." Take the Hiline Road turn off Chuckanut Drive and after a couple hundred yards you will see a handful of parking spots. This is also known as Cleator Road. And, all the way at the end of The Urb, there is roadside parking at Larrabee State Park, if you wish to park at the end and explore this end of The Urb.