Birch Bay State Park
Set in a blue cove between Bellingham and Blaine, Birch Bay State Park feels private and secluded without being far from urban life.
Stroll along the rocky beach and take in dramatic views of the North Cascades Mountains and Canadian Gulf Islands. Or head up the Terrell Marsh interpretive trail to a rare saltwater and freshwater estuary teeming with birds and wildlife, including great blue herons.
Low tide reveals a wide mudflat with a treasure trove of clams and other shellfish that can be harvested in season. Bring out the pails, shovels, mud boots and licenses, and start digging! If you prefer to swim, Birch Bay is known for its relatively warm water, and if you'd rather be on the water, the park offers excellent crabbing, windsurfing, sailing and paddling.
Staying overnight? The friendly campgrounds, basketball court and environmental education programs in summer ensure fun for the whole family. If you're looking for a side trip, the U.S.- Canada border town of Blaine and the fascinating Peace Arch State Park are only 9 miles north, and the lively university city of Bellingham is 20 miles south. You can always spend an evening in town and return to the beachy bliss of Birch Bay.
Birch Bay State Park is a 664-acre camping park with 8,255 feet of saltwater shoreline on Birch Bay and 14,923 feet of freshwater shoreline on Terrell Creek. The Terrell Creek Marsh is one of the few remaining saltwater/freshwater estuaries in north Puget Sound. A natural game sanctuary sits at the park's north end.
Automated pay station: This park is equipped with an automated pay station for visitors to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass and boat launch permit.
Use our interactive ADA recreation map to search for other state parks with ADA amenities and facilities.
Picnic & day-use facilities
The park has six sheltered and 120 unsheltered picnic tables. There is one kitchen shelter with electricity and water that is on a first-come, first-served basis, and one reservable picnic shelter without electricity that can accommodate up to 150 guests. The reservable picnic shelter can be reserved online or by calling (888) CAMPOUT or (888) 226-7688.
- Kona Ice - Ready for a taste of Hawaii? Kona Ice is now available at Birch Bay State Park. Kona Ice is a fun mobile truck complete with Tiki-hut roof and steel drum music. They feature a wide variety of flavors toppings for their shaved ice and a line of sugar and dye-free flavors. Kona Ice sets up across from the beach near the Heron Center and is open Tuesday through Sunday from May through Labor Day. Visit them on Facebook.
- Sugar Shack Ice Cream - Everyone loves ice cream! Sugar Shack mobile ice cream has been serving the visitors of Birch Bay for over 10 years now. Featuring a variety of ice cream snacks, the mobile truck sets up in the day use area of Birch Bay and makes a swing through the camp loops every evening. They operate May through September. Visit them online, Facebook, or Instagram.
- 0.5 mile of hiking trails
Water activities & features
- Boat ramp
- Kite boarding
- Oyster harvesting
- Personal watercraft use
- Basketball court
- Beach exploration
- Bird watching
- Fire circles (6)
- Wildlife viewing
Birch Bay State Park has an active summer interpretive program, the 0.5-mile Terrell Marsh Interpretive Trail and four interpretive signs throughout the park.
- Birch Bay is a popular destination for hard shell clamming and is abundant in Dungeness crab. Harvest season normally begins mid-August.
- A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington State Parks. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Printable park brochure (PDF).
Boating features Located in Whatcom County on Puget Sound, Birch Bay has one boat ramp.
Launching a boat at a state park requires one of the following:
- An annual launch permit (Natural Investment Permit; or
- An annual Discover Pass and a daily launch permit; or
- A one-day Discover Pass and a daily launch permit.
Annual permits may be purchased at State Parks Headquarters in Olympia, at region offices, online and at parks when staff is available. Additional information can be found in the Boating Program.
Latitude: 48º 54' 13.68" N (48.9038)
Longitude: 122º 46' 1.55" W (-122.7671)
The park has 147 standard sites 12-by-12-feet in the forested camping area, 20 partial-hookup sites, two primitive sites, a trailer dump station, eight restrooms (one ADA) and 18 showers (two ADA). Maximum site length is 60 feet (limited availability). Campsites are reservable for arrival dates from May 15 - Sept. 15.
Check-in time is 2:30 p.m.
Check-out time is 1 p.m.
The park has one primitive group camp for up to 40 people. Two group camps with five standard sites each. Fees vary with size of the group.