Mountain bikers have been hurtling down Galbraith Mountain since the mid 1980s. It has since grown into a world-class destination, and the cornerstone of Bellingham’s mountain biking scene.
But this local treasure is not, as you might expect, a public park.
Thousands of adrenaline junkies visit every year to explore its growing network of trails. A dedicated group of volunteers maintain the trails under the banner of the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC), but the land is privately held.
Very few of Whatcom County’s nationally acclaimed mountain biking trails are on public land, and that’s unusual.
“There are certainly communities where they’ve got amazing trails and trail organizations,” said Eric Brown, Trail Director at WMB. “In the Pacific Northwest, Bend and Squamish immediately come to mind. Asheville, NC and Moab, Utah would be others where the mountain bike community has created world-class trail networks. Most of these trails, however, are on public land and not private.”
Galbraith contains over 50 miles of singletrack on more than 3,000 acres just minutes outside downtown Bellingham. But the mountain is far from static. New trails are constructed each year in the wake of the lumber harvest.
Outdoor recreation businesses—like the 10 bike shops in town—contributed to the Bellingham economy to the tune of 3,728 jobs and a $705 million dollars last year, according to Recreation Northwest. This economic boost is made possible through goodwill partnerships like one that created and sustains Galbraith.
Many people visit Bellingham just for the chance to ride Galbraith, and while they’re here, they discover everything else our city has to offer.
According to Brown, “Our community takes a ton of pride in having world-class trails that are user built and maintained. For a community of 80,000, we bring an army of experienced trail builders to projects and have created something for everyone on Galbraith. Of course, we have supporters who build and maintain trails and that’s what the WMBC is renowned for. However, we also have supporters and businesses who create amazing signage, help put on amazing events and races, teach local youth how to ride and build trail, do pro bono work with their professional skills, loan us equipment and donate to our organization. It’s truly a community-based organization.”
Lumber industry landowners partnering with dedicating volunteer groups to create a destination for thrill-seekers that injects millions into the local economy—that’s a Bellingham win!
Visit our Facebook page for more pictures from a recent WMBC trail maintenance trip.