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Stimpson Nature Reserve

Puget Sound and Islands


Puget Sound and Islands -- Bellingham Area
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4.9 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 300 ft.
Highest Point: 800 ft.


4.29 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2021

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


Take a stroll through 350 acres of undisturbed old-growth forest and thriving wetland ecosystem at the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, a quiet place where hikers can experience the intricate grandeur of nature. Interpretive signs encourage adults and children to discover the nature of the reserve.

Head out from the parking area onto the forested gravel path. Dedicated by the Stimpson family in 2003 (see note below for more detailed history), the reserve’s trail system is two connected loops, the shorter of the two circling Geneva Pond.

Take a moment to look out at the Beaver Pond before reaching the Main Loop junction at 0.3 miles. Head to the right to continue skirting the pond and surrounding wetland. Beavers are active in the area, so be on the lookout!

The 3-mile Main Loop gently climbs through Douglas-fir, western hemlock and redcedar towering above the trail. Small streams and waterfalls run past the trail after heavy rains, and fallen logs and snags attract pileated woodpeckers. At just over a mile, a viewpoint of Lake Whatcom can be made out through a break in the forest. From this high point, the trail continues downhill through a section of forest with picturesque moss formations on the surrounding trees.

At 2.5 miles, a junction with the Geneva Pond Loop leads off to the right. Continue straight to finish the 3-mile loop and head back to the parking lot, or take the Geneva Pond Loop to add another 1.8 miles to your hike (including the 0.4 miles back to your car).

The Geneva Pond Loop circles a small pond. With open areas on the southwestern edge of the pond, the sunlight shimmers off of water lily pads and the backs of wood ducks floating along peacefully. Meeting back up with the Main Loop Trail, turn right to reach the parking area in 0.4 miles.

History of the Reserve

This historical note provided by Whatcom Land Trust. This reserve came about thanks to collaboration between the Stimpson family, Whatcom Land Trust, Whatcom County Parks, Western Washington University and the Department of Natural Resources.

In the fall of 2000, the Stimpson siblings donated 116 acres in the Lake Whatcom Watershed to Whatcom Land Trust, who then sold watershed conservation and recreational use easements to Whatcom County. The proceed from that sale bought an adjacent 80 acres from the Trillium Corporation and the remainder established a fund to develop and manage the property. WWU also donated two small but crucial parcels to the Trust.

In September 2002, DNR made the 138-acre Lake Louise Natural Resources Conservation Area a part of the reserve, and on October 11 of the following year, three generations of Stimpsons gathered to help dedicate the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve. Susan Stimpson Trimingham said at the dedication that in its purest sense this reserve “is a gift from our community, for our community; from the past, for our present and future.”


Stimpson Nature Reserve

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.7320, -122.3769 Open map in new window


Puget Sound and Islands -- Bellingham Area

Whatcom Land Trust

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Guidebooks & Maps

Whatcom County Parks

Getting There

driving directions

From Bellingham, drive east, on Lakeway Drive (I-5 exit 253). Follow the curvy main road which eventually becomes Cable Street. As it descends the last hill (Lake Whatcom in sight ahead) turn right onto Austin Street; this is the first right turn after the well marked pedestrian crossing.

After a stop-sign, the street becomes Lake Louise Road. In about 1.5 miles look for the large trailhead parking lot on the left; be cautious of traffic when turning in.

Take Transit

Take the bus to the trailhead! Plan your trip by bus using TOTAGO.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Stimpson Nature Reserve

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