The Sehome Hill Arboretum In Bellingham Washington is unlike many arboretums because it is completely natural and almost untouched. Most arboretums are planted and curated to look a specific way and showcase a variety of different plants. The trees in the Sehome Hill Arboretum were not planted for the exhibit, the arboretum is just in a naturally wooded and forested area.
With 175.5 acres of forested area, Sehome Hill Arboretum is a beautiful and large place to escape. Throughout the Arboretum, there are 6 miles of trails winding through the forested area and connecting the parking lot to the summit of the Sehome Hill Arboretum. While in the Arboretum, there is a good chance you will see wildlife, little critters, birds, and bugs. Natural areas like this provide a perfect place for pests to live and not get into our homes and properties.
The land where the Arboretum stands became a park in 1922 and transitioned into the Sehome Hill Arboretum in 1967. In 1978 the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department, together with Western Washington University and the Sehome Arboretum Board of Governors, developed the Master Plan for the Sehome Hill Arboretum. In 2001-2002 that plan was revisited, updated, and put into action. The updated plan focused on public aspects and finding the best management practices for the Arboretum. The plan outlined alternative signage and trails as ideas to explore. The basis of this new plan was adopted in February 2004 and has been the guiding plan since then.
The Observation Tower Trail leads travelers through a forest of Douglas Fir that were originally harvested in 1904 that have grown thick over the last hundred years. The beautiful hike leads to a scenic overlook and an 80-foot wooden observation tower. From the tower, you can see sweeping views of Bellingham’s cityscape, the Canadian mountains and other surrounding mountains, and Bellingham Bay. The trail is less than a half mile from the parking lot making it easy and accessible to nearly all who want to check out the Observation Tower.
In 1923, a workman chiseled a large tunnel into the sandstone by hand that was just big enough for a Model-T Ford to fit through. Since then, the road has been closed to cars (as they are now too large to fit) and it is now a pedestrian walkway with a great sight to see. If you are in the Bellingham area and decide to visit the summit of Sehome Hill, make sure to take a detour onto Tunnel Ridge Trail to see this great craftsmanship.
The Huntoon Trail goes around the north end of the Arboretum, then loops down south along Sehome Hill Arboretum’s western edge. Along the Huntoon Trail you will pass the location where a landslide took place in 1935. This trail has several side trails connecting to Western Washington University. In total, the Huntoon Trail is only 0.8 miles long.
We listed just three of the most popular trails found in Sehome Hill Arboretum, but there are many more for the avid hiker. If you are interested in hiking, make sure to check out other hikes in the area, and don’t miss the chance to visit Whatcom Falls Park for some hiking and swimming in a beautiful place.