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Hi! This page is a mix of links and notes that I find useful for planning a trip in the Pacific Northwest. I plan to expand this info into a site later, with images and information from my travels, more advice, and perhaps an itinerary planner.

NOTE: The text on this page was last updated in 2008.

Washington State

I fell in love with Bellingham, WA the moment I saw it (in June 1997). Each time I hit the west coast en route to Alaska, I visited Bellingham and liked it more and more, until finally in August 2001 I moved here! I've been here ever since and still love it!!!

There's tons of hiking trails, including some medium-sized ones on Chuckanut Mountain, which is within easy walking distance of where I live. The really cool hikes are in the North Cascades. The challenge is to find good weather, since it rains most of the fall/winter and the Cascades are full of snow in the spring. I guess the idea is to cram as much hiking into the summer as possible!


Near Bellingham

Most of these trails are reachable by foot from Fairhaven.

Whatcom County Trails
includes a nice section on Chuckanut Mountain
Bellingham Herald - Outdoors
a little chaotic, but has good trail notes
Kulshan.com - outdoors
lots of trails
user-supplied trail reviews

North Cascades - Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie Area

This is about an hour from Bellingham, accessible via Mount Baker Highway. Trails include: Church Mountain, Goat Mountain, Hannagen Pass, Helitrope Ridge.

US Forest Service - Conditions
current trail, road, visitor center conditions
US Forest Service - Home
For info about Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie area, trails that are outside of the National Park.
Contact Number Location Hours Notes
Glacier Public Service Center (360) 599-2714 Glacier
(Mt. Baker Hwy)
8a-4:30p US Forest Service, for info about stuff outside of national park (e.g., Heliotrope ridge)

North Cascades National Park

The main part of the North Cascades National Park is accessible via Hwy 20. Trails include: Cascade Pass, Easy Pass.

National Park Service - Conditions
current status of trails, campgrounds, roads, and visitor centers
National Park Service - Home
Park fees, dates, and other info.
light on flash, medium on info
ThingsToDo.com - North Cascades Hiking
Mini-Milepost guide for Rt 20, has notes about the bigger trails along the way.
Contact Number Location Hours Notes
Wilderness Information Center (360) 873-4500 ext 39 Marblemount
(Hwy 20)
7a-6p (Fri-Sun) 8a-4:30p (Mon-Thu) -
North Cascades Visitor Center (206) 386-4495 Newhalem
(Hwy 20)
9a-5p -
(National Park?) Headquarters (360) 856-5700 ext 515 Sedro-Woolley 8a-4:30p -

Washington Hiking - General Info

Here's stuff that applies to multiple areas of NorthWest Washington.

GORP - North WA Hiking
heavy on flash, light on info
Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT)
Focused strictly on the PNT (which crosses the state). It has a nice map of Blanchard Hill.

Semiahmoo / Birch Bay / Blaine

Tides.info and Xtide Graphs
Useful when planning a walk around the Semiahmoo peninsula.


San Juan Islands

Ferry Schedules
Changes every year.

Other Transportation

Airporter Shuttle
A very pleasant way to get to SeaTac from Bellingham and other towns north of Seattle on I5.


I live in Bellingham, WA, which is less than an hour from Canada. I've been to BC countless times now, to the Canadian Rockies three times (Oct 1999, Jul 2001, Aug 2003), and to Vancouver Island twice (Aug 1997, Nov 2003). Canada might not have the awe-inspiring scale and wildlife of Alaska, but it's cheaper, more comfortable, and requires less driving, which means more time can be spent hiking and/or relaxing. Overall, Canada makes for a less stressful (though perhaps less memorable) vacation.


Via Rail
You can take the train from Vancouver to Jasper or Prince Rupert
BC Ferries
Cheapest, fastest way to get to Vancouver Island.


I've been to Alaska four times now: Jul 1997, Nov 1999, Jun 2001, Aug 2004. Here's some information I assembled when planning the fourth trip:


Bundles for unlimited ferry, bus, and train. I used this on my first trip (1997) and loved the freedom it gave me. Remember: sleeping on a ferry is free!
Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS)
Ferry Schedules, Prices, etc. The Seward-Kodiak-Homer route is the most bang for your buck. The Bellingham-Juneau-Skagway/Haines route is an unforgettable trip, but you need lots of time and patience!
Gray Line of Alaska
I took this bus from Haines to Fairbanks in 1997. It took 2 days, and overnighted in Beaver Creek, Yukon. Their website says they don't offer this route anymore.
Alaska Direct
Here's another bus option for getting from Haines to Fairbanks/Anchorage. Their website says: $185, overnights in Tok.
Alaska Railroad
Connects Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Seward. Beautiful train ride.
Expedia | Travelocity | Orbitz
If you don't have much time, flying is the best way to get to Alaska. If you order tickets long enough in advance, I think it's also the cheapest. The cheapest Seattle-Anchorage price I've seen is $222 round trip.
AlCan Highway
If you have lots of time and patience, you can drive to Alaska. You don't even need a good car!

Guide Books

Let's Go - Alaska and Pacific Northwest
I saved a lot of money with this book (well, actually an earlier version), so it more than paid for itself. It was also fun to read!
Lonely Planet - Alaska
It's smart to have (at least) two books covering the same area, so you can get a sense of consensus.
A must-have if you're driving. Even if you take the bus, this would be cool.


Here are some estimated costs of travelling to and within Alaska:

Bellingham to Anchorage:

Route Mode Cost 2ppl Days
Bellingham - Haines Ferry(foot) $300 $600 3
Ferry(car) $1060 $1360 3
Bellingham - Prince Rupert Train $200 $400 2
Car $120 $120 2
Prince Rupert - Haines Ferry(foot) $150 $300 2
Ferry(car) $520 $670 2
Haines - Anchorage Bus $185 $370 2
Car $60 $60 1
Seattle - Anchorage Air (2way) $250 $500 2
Bellingham - Anchorage Car (1way) $300 $300 5
AKPass(8) $650 $1300 5
AKPass(12) $800 $1600 5
AKPass(22) $1050 $2100 5

For the August 2004 trip, we flew from Seattle to Anchorage for about $250 each. We took a red-eye both ways. Going up was hard; it took me a couple days to get my energy and mood back.

Once There:

Route Mode Cost 2ppl
Anchorage - Seward Train $59 $118
Shuttle ? ?

For the August 2004 trip, we ended up renting a car from High Country Car Rental (in Anchorage). We got a good deal: mid-sized car for two and a half weeks of unlimited mileage for around $850 total. We stayed in campgrounds every night, and slept in the car most of the time (a tent the other times). Sleeping in the backseat of the car was a little cramped, but it was cheap and protected us from the rain, bugs, and bears. :)


If you have only 2 weeks, I think the cheapest way to experience Alaska is to fly. I've seen round-trip tickets for Seattle-Anchorage at $210/person. Once there, you'll need to rent a car (~$300/week), get an AlaskaPass (expensive for short trips), or make piecemeal use of ferry, train, and bus/shuttle. If you plan to spend more of your days hiking and exploring on foot than riding a ferry, train, or bus, this is the most economical way to go.

If you have about 3 weeks, an interest in SE Alaska, and/or a love of ferry travel, then the AlaskaPass might be the smartest way to go. The first 5 days (on the ferry and bus) will be mostly boring, but also relaxing and occasionally exciting. You'll get to see most of the "big name" locations in Alaska (plus a little bit of Canada), for no additional cost: Juneau, Skagway, Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Kodiak, Homer. If you want to see as many of these (mostly coastal) locations as possible, the AlaskaPass becomes quite a bargain.

If you have a month or more, and aren't all that interested in seeing the islands, then you'll probably save a lot of money by driving. It takes 5 days to get to Anchorage, 10 days up and back. If you figure $60/day gas, that's $600 for gas, plus 10 days' food, lodging, and vacation hours. Once you're up in Alaska, you have lots of freedom and (relatively) cheap transportation: your car. The 10 day "commute" would kill a 2-week vacation, but for a 30-day trip it's not so bad, since you can break it up a bit (sightseeing, day hikes). Sleeping the car is cheap!

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