Lookout Mountain (Bellingham)

December 2, 2021


Bellingham, WA

Lookout Mountain is one of those “P600m” objectives in the vicinity of Bellingham that falls into the category of “dumpster diving”. There are two summits on this mountain with elevation difference of only 1 ft according to the government’s topo map and both summits are forested with no view whatsoever asides giant communication towers. To safely claim the prominence of this mountain one needs to ascend both the north and south peaks just to be sure. There are a maze of logging and service roads but they are all gated at the bottom, so one way or another one has to earn it. The service road goes all the way to the very top for both summits and biking is by no doubt the most ideal way.

After about 2 years of closure the U.S./Canada finally opened for free travel, but only for Canadians and only for trips under 72 hours long. This meant I could finally go down to Washington for short trips without quarantine nor obtaining a Covid test. The weather was not so great and I had work commitment in the afternoon, so I decided on this no-brainer bike-up objective. I crossed the border into U.S. at 6:45 am and the crossing was as easy as one could expect. An hour later I parked at the designated spot on Lake Louise Road. The service road was as expected, gated.

Lookout Mountain bike-up from Lake Louise Road. GPX DL

Going solo meant I could be as efficient as possible at the trail-head transitions so in no time I was already pedalling up the hill. The grade of this road was overall not too steep. There are definitely sections that I ended up having to push the bike, but the steep stretches were never too sustained. The most notable spot was the wash-out just before a series of switch-backs. Almost the entire road was washed away such that it was quite a challenge to push/carry the bike across that mess. At the south/north peak junction I decided to check out the lower south summit first. The weather was still 100% overcast but the forecast was falling for a clearing trend. I wanted to save the main (north) summit for later when it’s supposed to be sunnier. The grade up towards the south summit was quite consistent and I was able to pedal all the way to the very summit.

Fat bike parked at the gate.
This is that wash-out. The first creek was the hardest.
A random view from the road…
Surprisingly this was the only dead-fall on the road
Me on the south peak of Lookout Mountain…

After taking an obligatory “victory shot” I immediately turned around and went for a ride back down to the critical junction. Without doing any lingering I turned left and started the uphill pedalling again. The ascent towards the north peak had a few steeper stretches. I could have pedalled all the way to the summit as well but I was tired and I wanted to reserve some energy for a potential plan on Saturday, so I pushed the bike up. The summit of the north peak was indeed more open than the south peak, but the view was still next to non-existing, even if the weather was bluebird.

Biking down from the south peak.
Riding up the north peak. The sky finally turned blue
More about the roads on the north peak
I thought it was going to be sunny but the clouds came back soon
The summit of the north (official) peak.
As you can see, the view would be non-existing anyway…
Me on the north peak of Lookout Mountain

Again, without doing any lingering I immediately started the downhill ride. Needless to say, the run was fast and furious that in short time I was back to that wash-out. Getting my bike back across that wash-out still involved a few tricky moves but soon I was back to having fun. My round trip time was under 3 hours 20 minutes covering over 22 km and 900 m elevation gain. Having a high-end bike proved to be essential in order to have fun on trips like this especially considering my lack of experience overall, so thank Matt’s North Shore Bike Shop again. I was very glad that I did not end up purchasing a cheap shit bike like most mountaineers did.

My bike and the dead-fall on the descent
The wash-out near the end.

The final unknown to finish this trip was the border crossing back into Canada. As expected, this was a slow show even with Nexus card. I ended up lining up for 40 minutes. The border guard asked me a load of personal questions but did not check my vaccination status nor my ArriveCan receipt.