In 2011, the City of Bellingham, Washington, completed reconstruction of Inspiration Point, a historic scenic roadside overlook alongside Woodstock Farm, and the former estate of Cyrus Gates, an early prominent scenic highway and park planner in the area. Gates originally built this overlook to promote the creation of Chuckanut Drive as an early scenic highway. Funded with a Transportation Enhancement grant and a local match, the project enhances opportunities for visitors and residents to participate in a variety of outdoor, recreational activities.
The only public access to Inspiration Point has been, and remains, via Woodstock Farm. Today, the farm is a public park owned by the City of Bellingham. Access to the farm was previously hazardous, with steep grades, poor sight distances, and unsafe driveway and road geometries. The improvements to Inspiration Point allow for safe entrance and exit to the farm as well as a new designated parking area that can accommodate up to 14 vehicles. Additional improvements include the clearing of vegetation to frame views, a walkway connecting the parking lot to the overlook, highway barriers, a pedestrian guard railing, preservation of historic rock wall segments, and three different retaining wall systems.
The Inspiration Point restoration updates the original overlook's concrete structure while providing the public with a scenic experience that is substantially similar to that of the early 1900s. The new pedestrian guard railing that surrounds the new overlook evokes the Arts and Crafts design style of Woodstock Farm. The project dovetails with Cyrus Gates' historic strategy of providing the public with a series of recreational opportunities that blend the notions of “park” and “scenic highway” into one seamless experience. The Inspiration Point project maintains Gates' original vision by providing scenic views and outdoor activities along Chuckanut Drive and reconnecting travelers to a previously-neglected wayside.
Since the project's opening in 2011, park visitation rates by motorists and bicyclists have increased substantially. The improvements to Inspiration Point have helped to ignite public interest in Woodstock Farm as a recreational amenity. The Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department is currently developing a Park Master Plan to address site access and programming, trails and trail links, and vegetation management across a variety of locations.
For more information, contact Jonathan Schilk, City of Bellingham, at JSchilk@cob.org.