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Which Bellingham trail will be your dog’s favorite?

These three trails are very pet-friendly

 Photos of Bellingham's pet-friendly trails. // Photos by Emma Flentke  

It's summertime and you're trying to get outside with your furry friend. But not all trails and parks are accommodating for dogs. So, what are the best Bellingham options for you and your pup?

Whatcom Falls Park is one trail frequented by Bellingham’s dog owners. 

Greg Sage, the owner of an Australian Shepherd named Whitney, said they walk five miles at Whatcom Falls Park every day. 

“The dogs can get out and play,” Sage said. “It's friendly and it still respects the natural environment.”

The 241-acre park has trash cans located all around, making it easy to dispose of your pet's waste.

The Whatcom Falls off-leash dog park allows dogs to interact with each other – although you should still hold your leash in your hand just to make sure you can quickly gain control of your animal if necessary. 

According to Bellingham’s new leash law, “all responsible parties must still have voice or sound control of their animal in designated exercise areas.”

If the area does not say otherwise, then it is a part of the City Park code and Citywide leash law that a pet owner is required to keep their pet on a leash.

The regulations are different for service animals. You still have to be in control of your service animal but it can be through voice and hand signals. 

Whatcom Falls Park offers a waterfall view at the beginning of the trail and has many paths branching off the main trail, providing many options for visitors. 

Lake Padden is another trail available to pets and humans featuring an off-leash trail and an off-leash dog park. 

Steven Janiszewski, parks operation manager for the City of Bellingham, recommended Lake Padden to pet owners. He said that it is best in the early morning right before the crowd appears.

“This is one of our most scenic parks in all seasons of the year,” Janiszewski said.

Jamie Hoeger and her dog, Kyra, love to explore Lake Padden’s off-leash trail. 

“She has fun sniffing on her own and things like that,” Hoeger said. “She loves to walk around and be off-leash.”

Lots of dogs are seen on this trail enjoying the ability to stretch their legs just like Kyra. 

Primary trails require pets to be leashed, but on the secondary trails pets can be off-leash. 

Janiszewski also recommended Sehome Hill Arboretum. The downside of the arboretum is that there are no trash cans along the trail, which means you have to carry waste from pets. 

“Please practice pack-in/pack-out,” Janiszewski said in an email, referring to the city regulation and common courtesy of ensuring any waste left by pets is not left on public property.

Out of the three pet-friendly trails, the arboretum is the most rigorous. Janiszewski says to be prepared for the elevation and the steepness of the trail.

“I suggest that you keep them leashed due to the steep terrain and thick vegetation,” Janiszewski said. 

Each of these trails allows free access to everyone and their dogs. A friendly reminder from the city of Bellingham when using these trails is to clean up pet waste, dispose of it properly and stop to look at the beautiful scenery. 

Emma Flentke

Emma Flentke is a campus reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a PR major and communications minor. In her free time she loves to go to the beach and go hiking. You can reach her directly at

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