Bike shops, trails and brew in Whatcom County
written by Andrew Loscutoff | photos by Brandon Sawaya
My Bellingham trip began at the Oregon City Amtrak Cascades station. With my mountain bike in tow, traveling couldn’t have been easier. At the train terminal, train staff scans your ticket and loads the bike. What a great way to travel stress-free.
The doors opened in Bellingham, and I stepped into sunshine. The Amtrak Cascades station of Bellingham is nestled next to ports and mooring yachts near Fairhaven, a historic district filled with shops, dining and local art. Across the street is the ferry terminal of San Juan Cruises for whale watching.
After a quick hotel check-in, the next stop was a downtown happy hour. Downtown Bellingham has a mix of vibrant young students, foodies and brew masters. The theater and town squares are booked with a variety of festivals and shows. Music from street artists floated through the air. Kombucha Town offered a variety of choices from corndogs to ahi tuna poke, all washed down with gold light kombucha.
The next morning, I was bent on mountain biking. After coffee and a light breakfast, I was in for a short spin to the trails. I landed at the Galbraith Mountain trailhead in short order. Local riders agreed on a true Galbraith experience, which included hauling myself up Tower Road. The climb is a gravel road, giving access to trails along the way. It is a steady grinding climb, but once at the top, the trails released a downhill flow of serpentine singletrack to the bottom.
Built with machines, these trails include full 180-degree reversals, constructed berms for turns, table top jumps and wooden bridges. It was a playground of high speed and thrills. Feeling your stomach drop and being completely focused on the trail induces a Zen-like state of mind for for thrill-seeking riders.
If steep and fast isn’t your flavor, Galbraith offers a variety of trails. Cyclists of any skill, ambition or age can have fun. Consult one of the local shops in town for a suitable recommendation. I stopped by Kulshan Cycles in downtown. The staff pointed me in the right direction.
After thirty miles of singletrack trail, I grabbed lunch at Magdalena’s Creperie in Fairhaven, which offered crepes made from scratch and its dozens of sweet and savory options. A grilled veggie crepe with smoked salmon and tzatziki sauce hit the spot.
The boardwalk near Fairhaven descends toward the bay and loops over the water. For a bit of rest, I found a bench and enjoyed the sunshine and ocean view.
Bellingham’s port and bay give it a coastal vibe, while the mountains are accessible for many backcountry adventurers. There was much more to explore, however, time was short.
For my last meal in Bellingham, I went with the recommendation of local mountain bikers. I ate at Aslan Brewery Company. Aslan is home to a variety of brews, all distinctive in flavor notes. The food followed suit. Imagine typical brewery fare elevated to gourmet, serving a bacon bison burger, portabella fries, roasted yam tacos and Hawaiian bowls.
The ease of travel, bike-ability and the dining offerings made Bellingham a great adventure spot in the Pacific Northwest.