Park & Trail Ordinances

The purpose of this information is to acquaint you with the rules and ordinances relating to having animals, specifically dogs, within Whatcom County park facilities.

General Regulations

All areas not posted otherwise require dogs to be under control and on leash at all times.

The owner or handler of any dog is to REMOVE FECAL MATTER deposited by their animal on public property or public easement before the owner leaves the immediate area where the fecal matter was deposited. The owner or handler of any dog must have in their possession the equipment necessary to remove their dog’s fecal matter when accompanied by said dog on public easement.

Any violation of the provisions of the animal regulations is a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine.

Off-Leash Areas


  • Arroyo Park: All trails
  • Lake Padden Park:
  • The fenced off-leash area near the ball fields in the southeastern part of the Park
  • Trails as designated at the east end of the park between the fenced off-leash area and the Galbraith Entrance.
  • A dog water exercise area near the ball fields area on the east side of the lake is signed for dog training and exercise. Dogs are restricted to entering Lake Padden only in this area.
  • Sunset Pond: All trails plus the water are designated for water exercise and training.
  • Sehome Hill Arboretum: All secondary (unpaved) trails. Dogs must be on leashes on all paved trails plus the Jersey Street and Arboretum Walkway.
  • Bloedel Donovan Park: During daylight hours from October 1 to April 30 and until 10:00 am from May 1 to September 30.
  • Whatcom Falls Park: The Waterline Trail south of Whatcom Creek and west of the Water Treatment Plant to Bayview cemetery and the trail from the Waterline Trail south to Lakeway are off leash.
  • Little Squalicum Park: All Trails. NOTE – Little Squalicum Creek may contain hazardous chemicals which may be harmful to animals. Also, the Little Squalicum Beach area is not owned or operated by the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Post Point Dog Park in Fairhaven: The field, trails and the lagoon water are in a designated area adjacent to the treatment facility and are open for dog training and exercise.


  • Lincoln Park: Full park is off-leash.
  • Skallman Park: Fenced play areas for dogs. Park is managed with the help of Grateful Dogs Off-Leash Society.


  • VanderYacht Park: Off-Leash areas.


  • Bender Fields: There is a 1 acre fenced enclosed off-leash dog park in the southeast corner of the complex.


  • There are various off-leash areas and trails throughout Whatcom County and the North Cascades mountain region. Please check individual areas and trails before letting your dog off-leash. Whatcom County Parks and Recreation can point you toward off-leash areas.

When a dog is within a designated off-leash exercise and training area, it is the owner’s/handler’s option to keep the dog under control by means of a leash. When the dog is off-leash, the owner/handler must still keep the dog under voice or sound control and is therefore responsible for all action, behavior and clean up of the dog.

NOTE: Dogs in heat MUST be restricted from off-leash areas, as well as dogs who exhibit aggressive behavior toward people or other dogs.

On-Leash Areas

All areas not posted otherwise require dogs to be on leash as part of city and county codes and leash laws. Dogs on city sidewalks must be leashed, as well as in all parks not expressly designated as off-leash areas. Within city limits, dogs must be licensed and up to date on rabies vaccinations.

Dogs off leash and at large are subject to confiscation and impoundment and are available for redemption in accordance with local law.

No Dogs Allowed

Due to heavy use by the public plus safety and health concerns, there are several park areas where dogs and domestic animals are not allowed:

  • Lake Padden Park and Bloedel Donovan swimming beach areas and any park land within fifteen (15) feet of the edge of Lake Padden or Lake Whatcom. The beach areas at each site are defined as:
  • Lake Padden: all land directly between the beach house parking lot sidewalk and the lake
  • Bloedel Donovan: all land bounded by the park/community building parking lot, boat launch, and the lake.
  • Cornwall Park and Fairhaven Park wading pools.
  • The athletic field playing surfaces located at:
  • Frank Geri Fields (Civic Field Complex)
  • Downer Fields (Civic Field Complex)
  • Lake Padden Park Fields
  • Battersby Field
  • Inside fenced areas of Civic Field Stadium
  • Inside fenced areas of Joe Martin Field Stadium
  • Within all park playground equipment areas
  • Within all tennis courts
  • Spray Parks
  • Big Rock Garden Park
  • Lower level of Boulevard Park west of the path along the parking lot including all grass areas and the path along the bay shoreline, path to craft studio and path near the playground equipment. Dogs ARE allowed on leash on the path next to the parking lot and to the water trestle along the trail to the south end of the park and to the overhead trestle and trail at the north end of the park.
  • All of Bloedel Donovan Park during the period of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend EXCEPT for off leash hours in the morning.
  • In the COUNTY, dogs are NOT permitted on trails or cross-country areas within the National Park or designated shellfish beds, in park buildings, at Canyon Lake Community Forest, Stimpson Family Nature Reserve and point Whitehorn Marine Reserve.


Horses are only allowed on paved roads open to motor vehicles OR designated bridle trails and parks as follows:

  • Arroyo Park: All Trails.
  • Cornwall Park: Wooded area between ballfield and pedestrian trail.
  • Lake Padden Park: Bridle trails on wooded side of park above pedestrian trail.
  • Little Squalicum Park: Trail from Bellingham Technical College to Bay.
  • Whatcom Falls Park: Trails across the bridge, north of Whatcom Creek.

The owner or handler is responsible for cleaning up waste deposits left on park property and they are required to have in their possession the equipment to remove the fecal matter when accompanied by their horse on public property or public easement.