Easily the City of Bellingham's most popular outdoor recreation spot, Whatcom Falls Park is a 241-acre natural forest preserve straddling Whatcom Creek just east of downtown.
The centerpiece and park's namesake is Whatcom Falls, a 20-foot drop that is popular amongst photographers and swimmers alike and is best viewed by the park's historic pedestrian stone bridge, built in 1939. The waterfall, although the largest, is actually only one of three cascades along Whatcom Creek within the park and one of four along the creek's full length between Whatcom Lake and Bellingham Bay. Eight-foot Whirlpool Falls, just downstream of Whatcom within the park, becomes a frenzy of swimmers during the summer months with its deep pool and 20-foot adjacent cliffs.
Beyond the creek and its three falls the park boasts 3.5 miles of well-built trails that meander through the dense foliage of Douglas firs, western hemlocks, western redcedar and bigleaf maples connecting adjacent St. Clair Park, Bloedel Donovan Park and the Whatcom Lake waterfront. The park also includes:
Going back to its origin, Whatcom Falls has been a popular recreational retreat since the early 1890s, then known as the "Picnic Ground," but it wasn't until the 1930s that federal dollars helped purchase most of the parks current acreage.
The Olympic Pipeline, a below-grade gas pipeline, ruptured in 1999, discharging 237,000 gallons of gasoline into Whatcom and nearby Hannah Creek. Instantaneously, 1.5 miles of the creek's forest habitat was engulfed in flames and three people were killed.
Note: Whatcom Falls Park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited. To make picnic shelter reservations or for other details, call Bellingham Parks + Recreation at 360.778.7000.