Like much of the West, this winter in Bellingham has been a little out of sorts: namely, a pretty dismal season on the slopes thanks to the lack of snow. But there's another option to stay active until spring arrives full bloom: Hop on your mountain bike. Some of the best mountain biking in Bellingham can be had in the winter, and you don't have to have a fat bike to tackle it.
A few inches of rain never hurt anyone, and who doesn’t love coming back from a weekend ride caked in mud? Here are our three favorite trails for early spring mountain biking in Bellingham.
Golden Spike/SST: North Galbraith
Golden Spike and SST both drain water extremely well and never seem to reach the mud levels that make winter riding swirly and tough (our compliments to the trail builders). On a mountain more known for its big hits and fast downhill berms, Golden Spike and SST take a more technical, single-track-style approach. The downhill can still be fast, there are plenty of small jumps to have fun on, and the berms turn really well, but these two trails are great for the mountain biker who loves a narrow route between the trees. It's perfect for cross-country bikers who want the fun of Galbraith without the big air.
To get there, park at the Birch Street entrance and ride up to the top of Cedar Dust. From there, ride The Wall, turning left on forest road 2000, and follow it a few more minutes until you pass by Aid Station G. Go straight on a small, flat, single-track into the woods a few hundred feet and you’ll come to a clearing. From there, lower your seat post and buckle your helmet, because you’re dropping into Golden Spike. You’ll be fed directly into SST; just keep heading down and directly across each forest service road.
Unemployment Line: South Galbraith
Unemployment Line is one of the introductory trails to downhill riding, so it gets a lot of care and attention from trail builders. This makes it especially great in the late winter months. Perhaps none of the 50-plus trails on Glabraith flow as well as Unemployment Line . It is one of the downhill trails with the most turns, and the berms are built high and solid, so you come out of each bend like a slalom skier. Play it right, and you won’t need to pedal.
Riders of all levels flock this way, as Unemployment Line is what you make of it: Ride around the jumps, hit them small, or hang with big air. Whichever way, the momentum and speed on Unemployment Line are too much fun to miss.
To get there, park at Samish Way lot, and head up through A Gate. Follow road 2000 until “Blue Rock” (a giant spray-painted boulder), and turn right on road 300, then right again at road 3200. Unemployment Line will be on your right in a few minutes. The step-down ladder is a great introduction to feature riding if you choose to hit it.
Chuckanut Ridge Trail: Chuckanut Mountain
As the knife-edge ridge that greets the breeze off Bellingham Bay, Chuckanut Ridge offers spectacular views in both directions and sheds rain exceptionally well. The casual slope through the trees to the left and the sometimes-stark drop off to the east means water travels down and off the trail, rather than sitting around and making things sloppy. Chuckanut Ridge is a roller coaster trail, going up and down and all around, but riding from the south end to the north means you’ll find yourself enjoying a lot more downhill than up. This is a great afternoon ride as you can catch the sunset over the water, through the trees. Some roots might be slippery, but overall, the trail is perfect for riders of all levels looking to have fun on a technical trail.
To get there, ride up Cleator Road (off Chuckanut Drive) to the top. You’ll be on the south end. Head north, and you can either ride out-and-back style, or a large loop: The Ridge Trail will drop you off on the Lost Lake trail, which you can ride down to the Interurban Trail. From there, pedal south a few miles until you are back at the bottom of Cleator.