Lake Padden is a must-visit destination in Bellingham for a variety of activities. The easy 2.6 mile loop hugs the shore of the lake, going in and out of the sun and shade as it winds through wooded areas. The North side of the lake loop is flat, open, and passes by restrooms, tennis courts, picnic areas, two open grass fields, a playground, and a boat loading ramp. The South side of the lake loop is covered in trees and slightly hilly, though still easy. The entire loop is a wide trail, either packed gravel or hard dirt, perfect for road running.
What Makes It Great
The loop is prime for all running and walking purposes. 2.6 miles is long enough for a pre-work jog, casual run, or afternoon stroll. It is also the perfect length and easy mix of flat and hills - a brisk workout allows you to power the South side hills and then open up and cruise a flat workout on the North side.
Runners looking for their weekend long run should turn off the loop at the furthest East point where some single tracks take you up into the hills and towards Galbraith Mountain. The single tracks are all difficult and can have some steep switchbacks, but they are great for accessing Galbraith.
The loop is also great for a casual family bike ride, just be aware of the amount of people when heading by the open fields and park.
Lake Padden is the home course to the local WWU Cross Country team, and hosts a preseason relay race (open to the public), as well as its invitational 6k/10k race in the late fall. Many other races and events take place around the lake, especially in the summer, and it's even a great place to grill-out and toss a frisbee, play with the dog in the adjacent dog park, or shoot hoops on the court.
Who is Going to Love It
The trail is wide enough to accommodate runners, walkers, and bikers going in both directions.
The flat water lake is an ideal spot for stand up paddleboards, white-water kayakers practicing their rolls, sea kayakers practicing their paddling, and even small sailboats.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are two main parking entrances: The West and East entrances. Both are off of Samish Way, as you head East from downtown Bellingham. They are clearly marked, and the second entrance (East entrance) is the same as the Lake Padden Golf Course turn. All parking is free.
There are more spots on the East side, where the dog park, open fields, playground, and picnic areas are. Park at the West side to be closer to the tennis court.
Horses are welcome on the loop - please park trailers at the furthest West portion of the West entrance, off of Wilkin St (next to Samish Way).