Nestled between a university and a high school, Sehome Hill Arboretum is a little pocket of nature in the heart of Bellingham. Established in 1893, the 180-acre arboretum offers visitors a network of trails that wind through lush, second-growth forest along with a few interesting human-made features, including interpretive displays.
From the parking area just inside the arboretum’s entrance on 25th Street, head north to connect the South Ridge, Douglas fir and Tower trails to reach the 80-foot wooden observation tower at the modest summit of Sehome Hill.
Along the way, you’ll walk through a forest of mighty Douglas fir, originally harvested in 1904. The forest has grown thick over the past 100-plus years, making the views of Bellingham Bay and the surrounding mountains from the tower somewhat limited.
From the Tower Trail, take a side trip along the Tunnel Ridge Trail and walk through a tunnel blasted from the area’s signature sandstone in 1923. To make your way back to your car, retrace your steps to the Tower Trail. Head north briefly on the Tower Trail, veering right at the Huntoon Trail junction.
The Huntoon Trail loops around the north end of the arboretum before swinging south along the park’s western edge. Along the way, pass the location of a 1935 landslide and several side trails leading to Western Washington University. Eventually, you will connect with the Fairhaven Trail for the final quarter-mile to the parking area.
If you are looking to extend your walk, choose from several other short trails that crisscross the Arboretum to create your own longer adventure.
Seasonal Tip: The view from the overlook tower is best in winter or early spring, when the trees have fewer leaves.