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Outdoors

Nooksack Loop Trail

Going with the flow

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Local livestock were out in full force and the cordoned-off area beneath the big red barn at Hovander Homestead Park was crawling with certifiable green thumbs as I wheeled our hand cart full of tomato starts out the gate of the annual Master Gardener’s Plant Sale to commence the next formidable task of the morning: trying to remember where we parked. 

Although locating something so conspicuous as a vehicle in the middle of a wide-open, 40-acre field seemed like a straightforward enough undertaking at the outset, I soon discovered that the substantial droves of eager customers who flock to one of Whatcom County’s marquee plant sales en masse hardly made the ordeal any less complicated.

To the braying of donkeys and the cluck of chickens we searched diligently among the densely packed rows of automobiles until my arms finally went numb from lugging our cart around. During that half-hour of confusion, my lady friend rolled her ankle into a gopher hole while attempting to swat away a bothersome bee.

It was then—at the very crux of this desperate moment—that we happened to stumble around the airplane-sized hood of a lordly Cadillac Escalade and discovered where our missing jalopy was hiding.

Feeling baffled and increasingly anxious about the whole affair, I immediately started loading our plants into the car and prepared to make a hasty getaway.

I got as far as opening the driver-side door before I happened to catch sight of a fairly new-looking section of multi-use trail that skirted the grassy cottonwood fringes right in front of the Nooksack River in a manner I found most intriguing.

Of course, once that happened, I couldn’t leave. Curiosity overtook me and I had to walk over there and check out that handsome river dike right of way for myself.

It turns out the official name of this trail is Hovander River Walk, and it’s a fairly easy packed-gravel trail that meanders upriver to Ferndale bridge connecting Hovander Park, Centennial River Walk, and Pioneer Park—some of the most beloved crown jewels of Ferndale—all in a single three-mile swoop. 

It also happens to be the first completed section of a much more ambitious outdoor recreation endeavor that is going to take a little more time to complete—a 45-mile circuit of dedicated non-motorized paths and lanes that will allow pedestrians, cyclists and all sorts of adventure-loving creatures to travel overland from Bellingham to the three largest cities on the main stem of the Nooksac—Ferndale, Lynden, and Everson, respectively—and back again entirely under their own body power.

They call it the Nooksack Loop. And if you want to get in on the action, I highly recommend you do so.

Whether you already know them like the back of your hand or barely know them at all, the towns, parks and farmland situated along the mightiest, most historically significant salmon-bearing streams in Whatcom County are a world-class adventure waiting to happen.

For more information about the Nooksack Loop Trail and the Hovander River Walk, go to http://www.wprfoundation.org

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