A couple of months ago I featured three hikes for little legs near Lake Whatcom, and this month I present my second installment of hikes for little legs with walks in northern Whatcom County.
Difficulty varies for these outings, but all are appropriate for families with little ones.
Probably the most difficult of these hikes, Point Whitehorn also has the biggest payoff in “wow” factor.
This nature reserve became public land when Whatcom Land Trust donated the 54-acre park to Whatcom County in 2008. The first three-quarters of a mile wind through the forest on improved trails ending in a steep trail that leads to one of the most pristine stretches of beach in the county.
The rocky beach gives way to sand when the tide is out, leaving plenty of tidepools to explore. The natural diversity on this beach is amazing, from crabs and sea stars to tiny fish and the herons who feed on them.
On our first visit to the park a giant sea snail was drawing a crowd: Its snail foot was an actual foot in length! If you’re a naturalist of any sort, or a kid at heart, this stuff is pure gold.
On a sunny, low-tide day, it’s worth packing a picnic lunch and staying a while. Just be aware that the only restroom is back at the parking area!
If you go: Take I-5 to the Grandview exit (266) and head west on Grandview until the road turns to the left and becomes Koehn Road. The parking area will be on the left.
Near the popular Hovander Park in Ferndale, Tennant Lake is a low, marshy lake great for birders and curious preschoolers alike.
The Tennant Lake Boardwalk is approximately one mile round trip, the raised boardwalk winding through the wetlands and to the edge of the lake. Kids and adults will enjoy traversing the boardwalk surrounded by water and lush vegetation. Open from mid-January through early-October, trees shade much of the boardwalk in the heat of the summer and provide a non-muddy trek during the rainy months.
An interpretive center at the trailhead provides kid-friendly activities, and the adjacent Fragrance Garden and 50-foot tall Lookout Tower provide more to see and do.
From here, families can also take the Hovander Homestead Trail, about a half-mile to Hovander Park, or explore the River Dike Access Trail, which connects to the River Dike Trail.
If you go: Take the main Ferndale exit and head west through town and watch for the signs to turn left toward Tennant Lake and Hovander Park, then continue following the signs until the road dead ends at the Interpretive Center. 5975 Lake Terrell Road, Ferndale.
Jensen Family Forest Park
The loop trail allows walkers to traverse much of the park’s 23 acres, on a level, improved trail great for strollers or wheelchairs. Even with the littles, this walk will take less than an hour.
From the parking lot, take the trail to the left to find a picnic table in a clearing near the edge of the woods. It’s the perfect sunny picnic spot, with a view of the agricultural land to the south.
Wander the trail through Douglas firs and vine maples. My kids and I were enchanted by one tree that created an archway over the path. In fact, my son was still talking about it the next day!
Families who enjoy geocaching will also want to make a stop and find the cache located at the site.
If you go: The quickest way to access the park is to take I-5 to exit 270 and head east, watching for the right on Stein Road. Note there are no bathroom facilities at this park.