The Sehome Hill Arboretum
The Sehome Hill Arboretum land that was bought, sold and shared by coal mining companies and logging companies in the late 1800s and early 1900s is now protected. The Arboretum has over 7 miles of unpaved hiking trails leading to the summit, with several hidden gems along the way. The convenience of taking from a forest right outside of the downtown Bellingham area though, may have a few drawbacks worth considering before grabbing the boots and the rain jacket.
Hiking through the Arboretum, I immediately noticed the landscape, which is moderately steep. This hike is not for the the faint in footwear, with the annual rainfall occasionally causing minor landslides. There are many cliffs and rolling hills, providing gorgeous views while ascending to almost 500 feet. At the very top of the hill there is an observation tower overlooking everything from downtown and the water to the Bellis Fair Mall. Entering the Arboretum from the WWU Campus southern entrance sets the mild tone for the hike by climbing up wood stairs with a wood railing, not something most hikers have grown to expect from other trail heads. beginning on Hutton Trail will guide toward a beautiful set of cliffs looking out over acres of forest as far as the eye could see. I recommend exercising cautionary measures when taking pets or young children along some parts of the hike, particularly around cliff edges. Even though it begins with a brief uphill climb, I would say most people are capable of this hike.
Since there are trail entrances right on campus, expect to see college students practicing rock climbing, studying plant species for their Fairhaven class, or maybe even journalizing their experiences in the Arboretum to write a review of some sort. There are trail entrances elsewhere on WWU Campus for general public as well. However, there is less access to the Arboretum than Whatcom Falls, one of the hiking trails very close to the downtown area as well. Furthermore, I would say other hiking trails in the nearby area would provide a better experience out in nature. When I was on the eastern side of the forest I accidentally stumbled upon a community of people living there in tents, and one can hear the sound of cars driving and even hear car horns and bus breaks squeak depending on how far up the hill the person is.
Stumbling upon the watchtower for the first time gives a rare view of the Bellingham area. Following that, a tunnel in the earth made for mining purposes has had so much overgrowth that its picturesque charm is hard not to stop and admire. Compared to other hikes nearby the downtown area, the Arboretum is much longer. It is not as mild as Teddy Bear Cove but it is not as intensive as Oyster Dome. Overall, it is a fitting hiking trail to be alongside a college campus, but maybe not the best hike for someone looking for nature as a getaway.
If one was looking for a fun hike for a group of friends, or maybe for some solitude, and don’t want to leave the Bellingham area, the Sehome Hill Arboretum is a wonderful hiking location near downtown, providing miles of quality trails. It provides the service it was protected for. I would not, however, recommend this location to those looking to get out in the wilderness and experience true nature.
“Geology.” Sehome Hill Arboretum. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.