Last Saturday morning Brian and I decided to explore the new trail system on the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve overlooking Lake Whatcom near Sudden Valley. I’d never hiked there, and Brian hadn’t been there for a long time.
The trail system is newly expanded, thanks to the work of Washington Trails Association. The property is a Whatcom County Park, made possible in part by the efforts of the Whatcom Land Trust. It’s part of what’s known to some as the “reconveyance,” which put large tracts of forest into county ownership to provide both recreation and protection for the Lake Whatcom Watershed. We were there to recreate.
Some days when we’re hiking we dedicate ourselves to hiking briskly, the main goal being to get exercise and burn calories. This was one of those days. I carried my small camera, but no tripod. We checked the map at the trailhead (and photographed it on my phone so we’d have a copy to refer to later) and decided to go uphill on the Rufus Creek Trail and return via the Baneberry Trail, with a side trip on the Waterfall Trail. That turned out to be a good choice as we climbed gently through the second- or third-growth forest. We paused for a snack at a nice bench overlooking Lake Whatcom, then continued another 3/4 mile to the trail’s end where it connects with the mountain bike-only Cougar Ridge Trail. The Baneberry Trail was a lot steeper and we were glad to be doing it downhill.
Much of the forest has a dense understory of Sword Ferns [Polystichum munitum], both under the conifers and the Red Alders. Although it was early January, the lush carpet of green made the forest feel much more inviting than if it were only shades of brown and gray.
At one point we paused to marvel at the sheer mass of wood chips at the base of a decaying Red Alder, the work of one or more woodpeckers. We didn’t see any of the birds, but we did hear one hammering on a tree in the distance.
We ended our trip enjoying a large waterfall from a well-constructed viewpoint. According to our iPhones, we hiked about 7 miles and climbed the equivalent of 115 floors.
We’ll go back another day with more serious camera gear to explore the diversity of mosses growing on the trees, stumps, and rocks along the trail.