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Out With Kids: Several Whatcom County trails are great for cold-weather treks

Recent chilly weather and heavy mountain snowfall sometimes brings the possibility of white stuff in the lowlands, transforming the urban landscape and giving local parks and trails a new look.

Snow covers the familiar. It shows the icy crystals of hoarfrost and reveals evidence of tiny creatures in their dainty tracks. It muffles sounds and lends an ethereal quality to a place we’ve grown accustomed.

Holly Roger of Bellingham, community programs coordinator at the outdoors educational group Wild Whatcom, loves the North Lake Whatcom Trail for all-season hiking — except in snow.

“Because postholing. Ugh,” Roger said. “I like going sledding and snowshoeing around Heather Meadows. Snowshoes are easy to use, cheap to rent if you’re just wanting to try it and fun for kids. Key ingredients for fun in the snow are appropriate clothing, and by that I mean wool and breathable layers, and drinks to warm you up from the inside.”

With that in mind, REI is offering several free winter sports classes this month, including Avalanche Awareness from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12; and Snowshoeing Basics from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14. All classes are at the store in the Sehome Village shopping center. Registration is required online at rei.com/stores/bellingham.html (scroll down for class schedule) or by calling the store at 360-647-8955. Many spots remained available earlier this week, although the classes are popular and frequently fill.

Still, if you’d like to get outside in light snowfall, following are three day hikes that are great for trekkers of all ages and abilities. Find maps to Bellingham parks at cob.org/services/recreation/parks-trails/trail-guide.aspx.

HORSESHOE BEND: This easy and well-maintained trail starts from the parking lot across the Mount Baker Highway from the Douglas Fir Campground about two miles east of Glacier. It’s an easy 2.4-mile round-trip out-and back trail that follows the raging North Fork of the Nooksack River and remains mostly snow-free through the season. Parking is free.

WHATCOM FALLS PARK: Bellingham’s signature open space offers several miles of wooded trails along Whatcom Creek, in addition to a playground and a Depression-era stone bridge where viewers can watch the falls. Visitors also can enjoy the remains of an old railroad trestle from the area’s logging days and the holding tanks for a state-run fish hatchery on the park grounds. All are accessible from the park entrances off Lakeway and Kenoyer drives or along Electric Avenue near Birch Street. A wetland habitat at the adjacent Scudder’s Pond offers occasional birding events.

It’s served by Whatcom Transit Authority bus routes 512 and 525.

ARROYO PARK: Its main trail follows Chuckanut Creek and branches off in several directions – including one route that climbs steeply into the hills and another that slopes toward the beach at Teddy Bear Cove. Park at either of the two trailheads on Old Samish Road near Chuckanut Drive or from the North Chuckanut Trailhead south of Old Samish Road. It’s also accessible by foot or bicycle from the Interurban Trail through Bellingham.

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