Several dozen hikers got an early look Sunday at the new Fairhaven Park trails that traverse the newly acquired land known affectionately as the Hundred Acre Wood.
Recreation Northwest led the 2-mile walk through forest and wetlands to introduce Parkscriptions, a new program to emphasize the many advantages of outdoor activities.
Family Care Network of medical clinics is participating, along with the Whatcom County Health Department and local parks departments.
“You feel good when you’re outside,” said April Claxton, co-executive director of Recreation Northwest, a local nonprofit that promotes outdoor recreation and conservation. “There’s a mental and physical benefit. If your doctor says getting outside is good, that might carry a little weight.”
The program is modeled after a national effort to get Americans outdoors.
About 60 people joined the tour along new trails and across a muddy wetland where a new boardwalk is planned in summer.
Participants saw dogwood flowers, the new fiddleheads of sword ferns and listened to the chirping of Pacific wrens and the hooting of barred owls. Find a printable map of the new trails online at Recreation Northwest.
“It was our first time wandering these trails,” said Gaby Gaiz of Lake Samish. “It’s great that right here, almost in the middle of town, we have these trails available.”
Sunday’s walk was through the network of trails south of Fairhaven Park, which had been slated for housing construction. But voters in 2013 created a special taxing district to repay the city of Bellingham for an $8.2 million purchase of the land in 2011, which prevented development of the site, also known as Chuckanut Ridge or the Chuckanut Community Forest.