02 May Galbraith Mountain
Galbraith Mountain in Bellingham, Washington is known as a world class mountain biking destination with over 50 miles of single-track on 3,000+ acres. There is a vast network of trails suitable for a variety of skill levels. Thanks to a large group of volunteers and trail builders you will find XC, free ride and downhill, all made more technical by the construction of stunts, berms, and ramps. The mountain has two entrances, one at Birch Street on the Northside and the other on the Southside off of Sammish Way. Limited parking is available, but on nice days these lots overflow.
I have been riding at Galbraith a couple of dozen times over the past year. If you love to mountain bike it really has a tremendous amount of variety to offer. But it also offers an impressive community that has developed organically around mountain biking and the mountain itself. This is a large and very committed, passionate group. Some may even call them zealots but good zealots. Their passion for this place is what is behind its continual evolution and its standing as one of the premier destinations for those who love this exciting and in my case at least, sometimes perilous sport. The people you run into on the mountain are great. It’s a friendly group. You will find all ages here, teens, college kids, young families, and seniors. Every stranger I’ve run into has given me a warm vibe which often streams off in many spontaneous conversations. Mostly about riding, the trails, directions, difficulties, and war stories about your own perilous and awesome experiences here.
I have a Galbraith map on a smartphone which tracks my location and this is really a godsend. Galbraith can be very confusing to navigate. It’s virtually a 360 degree affair with trails covering nearly every facet of the mountain at many different elevations. Many of the trails have signage but a lot of times you don’t know where you are or what to ride. Having a map of some sort is really helpful as you can see trails and which of them are one way, difficulties, and where to find a kiosk or first aid if you need it..
Another consideration when riding here is that you will need to climb. How much depends on what part of the mountain you are riding. The overall elevation is close to 1800 feet. Tower Road which goes all the way to the summit is a long haul covering 3 miles and 1400 feet of elevation gain. It’s a tough ride and you will feel it. So you have to earn it if you want to ride the best trails on the mountain. But I often ride the lower part of the mountain, trails like Lost Giants, Mole Trap, Rock & Roll and Bandito, when I just want to get in some fun single track and a good workout.
When I am feeling more adventurous I will ride up Three Pigs and then over to Unemployment Line and Atomic Dog for some thrilling downhill filled with ramps, jumps, berms and vertical. If you are looking to get down the mountain fast there are a lot of options.
This place can really fill up with people when the weather is nice but it never feels over-crowded. You are often under the forest canopy so you don’t have a hot sun beating down on you which is another big plus. It’s generally dry, and the trails are very well maintained. You can’t really find this much value anywhere else that I’ve ridden. I will continue to update this post as this season progresses. There is so much here to cover and if you love riding then Galbraith needs to be on your list of worthwhile destinations.
The definitive organization behind the Mountain Bike Community in Bellingham is WMBC.