Sunday, 16 October 2016

Lake Padden

Padden Clouds
Continuing my short series of favourite walks in the Bellingham area we simply had to make a trip to Lake Padden.  In fact this is the one park that I have never failed to visit on any of my trips to Washington State.  Lake Padden was once the water source for Bellingham until the city grew much larger and the bigger Lake Whatcom was used instead.  The area was incorporated as a park in 1972 and is something of a playground for local residents, with picnic areas and sporting facilities available as well.  There is also a lengthy trail network, particularly in the surprisingly wild part of the park on the south shore.

This walk is restricted to the 2.6 mile shore path rather than straying into the wider network of paths, but to be fair you will get a sense of what the park is about by following this trail.  Adding extra mileage will do more for your health but you won't see anything more than extra forest.  We started our walk at the main car park off Samish Way.  If you are feeling really energetic it is also possible to walk here from Fairhaven via Padden Gorge.

Lighting the Leaves
It was a glorious Monday morning - in fact I cannot think of a better activity for a Monday morning!  It sure beat the normal routine of getting ourselves to school and work :)  We walked anti-clockwise around the shore trail.  I'm not sure why but we tend to walk in that direction, for no other reason than it just feels right.

Forest Section
Almost immediately we could see some of the leisure uses of the lake.  Some youngsters were lolling around on the bank and I hope were taking turns in the hammock they had strung up between two trees a little further on.  A couple of fishermen were trying their luck on the banks and plenty of other people were also out walking and running the shoreline trail.  The beauty of walking in this direction was that we were soon in the shade of the forest.  While the north shore is dedicated to sports and leisure activities the south shore has largely been left alone and the path walks through some beautiful old growth forest.

Softball Pitch
We first stopped at the dock so that we could admire the reflections of the puffy clouds appearing in the surface of the lake.  We tried not to disturb the fisherman at the end who was trying his luck.  Given the amount of effort he was putting in and the amount of equipment he had I'm not altogether sure that he was really there to catch fish - more to enjoy his surroundings with the fishing rod as his excuse.

From the dock the path takes an undulating walk through the forest.  At times the walk can be quite dark and the shade was very welcome on this very hot day.  Every now and again the light penetrated through as a fallen tree had provided a gap in the canopy.  The forest was alive with moss, insects and even the odd fungi but strangely no sign of any wildlife or even birds.  Mind you, the incessant chatter from my girls didn't help on that front!

Lake View From the East
The forested section of the walk is approximately a mile and at the far end of the lake where you expect to continue around the shore the path continues straight on a bit further to dog leg around the lowest bridging point of the inlet creek.  I have always thought this part of the trail a bit of a nuisance especially as you have to double back along the opposite bank (this isn't necessary if you emerge from the lengthier extra walk through the forest.

On the right hand side of the path the first of the sports piches can be seen and today there was a small group of youngsters testing their softball skills.  Further beyond this and rather out of sight is a golf course (safely away from prying eyes!).  On the shore of the lake we could see other families getting ready for barbecues and picnics.  It was pretty obviously school holidays judging by the activity in the park.  Rather surprisingly though it was confined to a pretty small area around the play area and the sports pitches.  We were soon back in a quiet part of the park and heading through more woodland although this time more managed.  We also passed by what looked like an old building that I iamgine was something to do with the water extraction that took place here.  Funny thing is I've been up here dozens of times and never noticed it before.  How weird is that?

Car Park View
We were soon back at the car and ready for a spot of lunch.  I could easily have done another lap it was that nice of a day :)

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