Monday, September 29th, 2014
Take the Nooksack Loop Trail to Hovander Homestead Park
Todd Elsworth

We took our bikes and the dog out for some sun and fun on the Nooksack Loop Trail to Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale. We turned off Hovander Road to get to the Fish & Wildlife boat launch and headed south on our bikes. The new gravel trail is great, but we chose to follow the lower, worn double track in the dog off-leash area to let “Fido” get some exercise.


The Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation is working on the The Nooksack Loop Trail linking the four cities of Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden and Everson by generally following the Nooksack River and old railroad corridors, forming a non-motorized pathway of trails and designated lanes, approximately 45 miles in length. This is one section of a larger project.

The trail follows the banks of the Nooksack River. The flat gravel path is high enough that you can often look down and see the mighty waters of the Nooksack as they melt from the top of Komo Kulshan (now known as Mt. Baker) and run down the foothills of the North Cascades on their way to the bay.


Fishing on the river for the fall run, walking the river’s beaches with your kids (or dogs) or taking a dip to cool off from the heat of the September sun- the choice is yours. We dropped down to the beach to throw a stick, go for a swim and get a drink. I came to learn that the big turbine looking contraption in the middle of the river is an outgoing salmon smolt trap after further investigation.

Hovander Park is set up well for recreational fishing and hunting. You can fish from the banks of the river or venture out into Tennant Lake for hunting. Easy access is afforded from the many entry points throughout the park.


Back to the Nooksack Loop Trail: It’s a quick flat mile from the trailhead at the boat launch to the homestead. If you’re with kids, take them to the Children’s Story Garden for an interactive experience with gardening and interesting creatures. A popular community library is on-site to facilitate information sharing amongst younger visitors. As part of the garden’s programs, “families learn to plant, maintain and harvest in this whimsical garden. Five fee-based Saturday classes runs April through October” Check out Children’s Story Gardens.
The pumpkin patch had been cleared of its’ leaves to expose the orange bulbs on the ground. The Whatcom County Master Gardner Foundation is the steward of this special place, they are creative, talented and dedicated to their craft.


Their dahlia gardens are phenomenal. Their demonstration garden contains all Whatcom County introductions. A laminated sign reads, “The Puget Sound/Georgia Strait region is one of the best flower growing areas in the world. It’s no surprise that local dahlia growers have hybridized a number of the varieties that are currently popular for garden and exhibition use.”
The Hovander Homestead itself is an impressive piece of architecture and is a Registered National Historic Place by the Washington State Advisory Council of Historic Preservation. It was placed on the register on October 16, 1974 by the National Park Service US Department of the Interior, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. It was dedicated to the Citizens of Whatcom County who so willingly supported its acquisition and improvement, Whatcom County. Inside is an amazing museum that details the life of the Hovanders and provides a snapshot in time to life long ago in Whatcom County.

We parked our bikes near the house and continued with the dog on leash to walk through the park. The park is welcoming to dogs and has appropriate space allocated to allow “Fido” to run free, but there are also those spaces where a leash is required. Walking in the shaded path of the trail, we made a big loop to the south of the property and turned back towards Tennant Lake to finish our own loop for the day. (I’ll fill you in on Tennant Lake another time- it’s an adventure in and of itself)


We made our way back to the homestead property and came upon the goats out enjoying lunch and the warm late summer sun. “In and around the barn and farmyard is a collection of antique farm implements and old harvesting equipment. Within the massive barn is a milking parlor display adorned with some of the antique tools and equipment used at the time the Hovanders worked the farm. From May through October Hovander hosts a variety of farm animals that become part of the authentic sights, sounds and smells of a farm.” Whatcom County Parks



There is always a lot of activity out at Hovander Homestead Park. Take the Nooksack Loop Trail from the north to extend your adventure and stroll the grounds for the day. Bring the whole family, even Fido, for a fun outdoors educational adventure- you deserve it.

For more fun ideas in Bellingham and Whatcom County visit our Insider Blogs Page.

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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at


  1. Hi – we’re a group of bikers looking to explore somewhere fun in Washington State. Do you know if there is a map of rideable sections of this loop?

    Or do you have any good posts about places a group could bike/spa/dine for 3 or 4 days?

    Comment by colleen — March 29, 2015 @ 10:17 pm

  2. For anyone curious, the section of this trail that runs through Hovander/Tenant is very nice. However, the section from Marine Drive to Tenant Lake is scary to say the least. It is not maintained at all. There are sink holes to watch out for and lots of nettles you will have to ride through. It is really, really too bad. If it was kept up it would be a gorgeous trail with views of the river and mountains. Just trust me, ride this trial with caution and I would not recommend taking kids through this section.

    Comment by elena — June 18, 2015 @ 11:45 am

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