Nestled in the tangle of roots and trails that run across Blanchard Mountain is Lizard Lake, though calling it a lake may be somewhat of an overreaching term. The water here is more of a beaver pond- though it’s nonetheless beautiful this time of year.
This is certainly one of those, “I’ve got two hours to burn, so why not,” trails. The drive from Bellingham is only about 10 minutes, and the hiking is easy and scenic. Fellow trailblazers can begin from either the lower or upper trailheads along Barrel Springs Road and follow the signs.
Moving at a moderate pace I made it up to the lake in 45 minutes, passing by rusted remnants of the logging train that ran up the mountain in the early 1900s. Steel cable and track still lies beside the trail here, so watch your footing.
When you finally make it to the lake you’ll probably feel like dunking your head in the water, but hold off. Families of beavers call this place home, and have a nasty habit of spreading giardia through the water. Instead filter your water from the seasonal cascade at the south end of the lake along the trail.
The lake itself is an impressive sight. Husks of dead trees still point skyward from the middle of the lake and the gentle lapping on shore will have you pausing for longer than it takes to catch your breath.
In terms of camping this spot is a gem. Multiple sites are clustered on a piece of land that juts out into the lake, complete with fire rings and benches. Because of its proximity to Bellingham and shorter hike however, I’ll often find that most of the tent sites are taken by the time I’ve arrived.
Luckily this afternoon I had the whole place to myself. From Lizard Lake you can easily continue hiking onto Lily Lake, Oyster Dome and beyond on the little known Pacific Northwest Trail, a path that extends from Montana to the Olympic Peninsula.
You’ve got two hours, right? What are you still here for?
From I-5S take exit 240, turn right then take a left on Barrel Springs Road. After 1/2 mile take a right onto the gravel “Blanchard Mountain Trail.” Park at the lower parking lot or continue another 2 miles to the upper parking lot.