If you’re seeking fresh air and nature’s beauty and you don’t want to go too far – Squires Lake is an ideal hike to explore!
Looking to breathe in fresh air and enjoy nature’s beauty with only an hour or two to spare? Check out Squires Lake! Nestled near the south end of the Chuckanut Mountains, just south of Bellingham and only one-half-mile off of I-5, Squires Lake offers an easy and accessible hike. As a Whatcom County resident, it’s one of my favorite spots to share with friends and family visiting the area. Most recently, I enjoyed this lovely hike with my nearly 70-year-old mom and my 11-year-old labradoodle, Kramer. Whether you’re looking for a quiet stroll, a woodsy trail run, or a simple hike with the kids or the dog, you can’t go wrong with Squires Lake!
Squires Lake Trail
Take exit 242 off of I-5 and head east. Within less than a mile you will see the Squires Lake trailhead parking area on the left. No parking pass required. The well-maintained trail leaves from the parking lot and immediately plunges you into forests of giant sword ferns, mossy rocks, and evergreen trees. After gently climbing for 0.4 miles, you arrive at the path circling Squires Lake and the lake is right there! I recommend heading left on Squires Lake Loop. Crossing a wooden bridge right away, you’ll see the first of many benches beside the lake. Stop and sit, look for birds (over 68 species have been identified here!), bring a book to read, or just take in the view of the lake and surrounding vegetation. Continuing around Squires Lake Loop, you will see several well-marked side routes. Stay beside the lake whenever you have the option for the best views, photo-ops, benches and informational signs to learn about the natural habitat surrounding you.
Extending Your Hike
If time allows, consider taking the Beaver Pond Loop trail you come to about half-way around Squires Lake Loop. This adds about 0.5 miles to the hike, and as the name suggests, this path is a loop – so there’s no need for out and back hiking and always something new to see. You may even get lucky and spot a beaver! When you get back to Squires Lake Loop, continue clockwise, enjoying many serene streams flowing through the woods. On the west side of the lake, multiple spurs to “South Ridge Trail” spring up along the way. These side paths are fun little sections, some of which offer views of Blanchard Mountain. Kids (and Kramer) love to explore the South Ridge Trail options!
Almost as quickly as you started, the 1-mile long Squires Lake Loop concludes at the trail leading back down to the parking lot. Between the lush evergreen forest, the beautiful little lake, the well-maintained trail and the many opportunities for exploring, Squires Lake offers something for everyone. And though it’s just off the freeway, you are definitely hiking in nature’s wonderland!
Pack a lunch and make a day of it, or just stop in for a nice one-hour jaunt through the beautiful Pacific Northwest forest. You’ll be glad you did!
Best Season to Visit
I recommend visiting this charming little hike often, as every season offers a new experience. It’s truly accessible year-round! If it’s been raining hard for a few days, you will encounter a few spots of soggy ground, but nothing more. No need for special footwear. In the winter, enjoy the fullness of the green sword ferns and mossy branches of the evergreen trees. Even on my recent visit in January with light rain, the tree canopy kept me from needing any rain gear. In spring, enjoy wildflowers and budding trees – in fact, two flowering dogwoods overhang the junction between the parking lot trail and Squires Lake Loop – simply gorgeous! Summer brings warm days and boating or swimming. No motorized watercraft are allowed, preserving the peaceful serenity of the area. Even on a hot summer day, there are plenty of shady spots, so it’s never too hot to go hiking! And ah… Autumn. Enjoy nature’s palette of changing leaves and the sweet smell of detritus filling the air. Each season offers something wonderful, I can’t choose a favorite!
On the way up from the parking lot – or for a final excursion on the way back down – look for a partially-overgrown side trail. This unmarked trail leads to a small waterfall that cascades out of the northwest end of Squires Lake. While it’s an unofficial trail, it is not obstructed, so if you find yourself climbing over logs, you’re going the wrong way! The trail takes off from the end of the third turn (counting up from the parking lot). If you’re on the right path, in only about 100 yards, you’ll be rewarded with views of a pretty little waterfall. There is a drop off down to the waterfall/creek below, so keep ahold of rambunctious kiddos and pups!
Safety note: while I’ve never personally encountered a cougar or bear on the Squires Lake trail area, there have been reports of both in the Chuckanut Mountains and surrounding areas. Be aware of safety recommendations before any hike and plan accordingly. Remember to recreate responsibly!