With spring just around the corner, getting outside is important. Taking a break from school or work to spend even a few minutes outside benefits physical and mental health.
“I think it’s important to get out because it’s easy to get stuck and forget what it’s like outside the campus bubble,” said Hatcher Cox, a first-year at Western Washington University.
Cox enjoys spending time at the small beaches around downtown Bellingham. He describes them as “little slices of heaven in an urban world.”
The nearest place on campus to enjoy nature is in the Sehome Hill Arboretum, which lies right alongside WWU. Other nearby parks, all accessible by walking, bussing, biking, skateboarding, horseback and more include:
Forest and Cedar Park
Harriet Spaniel Park
Maritime Heritage Park
Taking the Interurban Trail can lead you to Arroyo Park, and from there hikes all along the Chuckanut Ridge are accessible.
“You can just pretend the walk to the outdoor space you’re headed to is part of the hike,” Cox said. “The buses can also get you mad far outside of Bellingham, and some hikes you can just walk to from the bus stop.”
Lake Padden and Whatcom Falls Park are accessible by bus. For those feeling more adventurous, Larrabee State Park and Samish Park are both bikeable from WWU’s campus.
There are also opportunities for students to get involved with outdoor groups both on and off campus. Western's Hiking and Outdoor Club meets every other Thursday at 5 p.m. in ES 100. Students interested can find the club on Instagram, at @wwuhiking.
“The club has lots coming up,” said Theron Kramer, current president of the club. “We’re doing a sunrise hike in Deception Pass, gear swaps, a backpacking trip and a couple other fun things sprinkled along the way.”
Kramer said that they plan events for all skill levels.
“The outdoors are for everyone and we want to be able to share in that together as a club,” he said.
Western’s Outdoor Center also offers many opportunities for students to get outside.
“Most of our excursions this quarter are filled up, but there’s still tons of activities that don’t require the use of any vehicle,” said Stephen Magnuson, manager of Viking Outdoor Recreation.
The Outdoor Center offers Wellness Wednesdays, which include activities such as mindful movement in the park, meditations, tide pool exploration outings, arboretum hikes and more.
“Folks aren’t always aware of how they can get involved with the Outback Farm, too, through gardening and work parties,” Magnuson said.
Students can rent bikes from the Outdoor Center, ranging from $4-$35 a day in cost.
Magnuson also encourages students to check out Lakewood, which he describes as “one of the gems at Western.” Students can rent paddleboards and kayaks to explore Lake Whatcom. Buses leave every hour to Lakewood from the station downtown.
Hanna Rhody (she/her) is a campus life reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a second year majoring in environmental journalism. In her free time Hanna enjoys all things music and all things cheese.
You can find her on Instagram at @hannatheginger.