Families

Five places to swim for free in Whatcom County

Nathan Boer, 7, splashes his brother Evan Boer, 5, while playing in Lake Whatcom at Bloedel-Donovan Park Monday, June 8, 2015.
Nathan Boer, 7, splashes his brother Evan Boer, 5, while playing in Lake Whatcom at Bloedel-Donovan Park Monday, June 8, 2015. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

It is no secret that Whatcom County has some great places to go jump in a lake – or, if you’re feeling brave, the marine waters around here. With temperatures hitting some of the summer’s hottest, this is a great time to enjoy local lakes and beaches.

Here are some of our favorite free places to splash in the sunshine:

Lake Padden

Like most outdoor swim areas, the beach is not monitored by a lifeguard, so parents need to supervise their kids while they’re in the water. Public restrooms are at the south entrance; picnic shelters are available by reservation.

Yeager’s offers hourly rentals of stand up paddleboards, single and double sit-on-top kayaks inside the park’s west entrance near the swim beach. Rentals are available noon to 6 p.m., Friday-Sunday on nice weather days through Sept. 4.

Location: 4882 Samish Way in Bellingham.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

More info: Go to cob.org and type in “Lake Padden.” Call 360-778-7000.

Silver Lake Park

This county park is located off Silver Lake Road and just south of the Canadian border. Visitors can rent canoes, pedal boats, and rowboats on the lake by the hour or the day.

Location/directions: 9006 Silver Lake Road near Maple Falls. The park is located just north of Maple Falls. From Interstate 5, take the exit to Sunset Drive (255), turn east onto Sunset Drive. Sunset turns into Mount Baker Highway. Continue past Kendall and turn left onto Silver Lake Road.

Hours: Open for day use from sunrise to sunset.

More info: Go to whatcomcounty.us and type in “Silver Lake Park.” Call 360-599-2776.

Bloedel Donovan Park

This popular park offers access to Lake Whatcom for boating and swimming. The unsupervised swimming area, which has a roped-off area, is extremely popular on hot summer days. Public restrooms are near the parking lot, and barbecue grills and picnic tables are available. Nearby Whatcom Falls Park has lots of walking trails, a fish hatchery and more playgrounds.

Location: 2214 Electric Ave. in Bellingham.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

More info: Go to cob.org and type in “Bloedel Donovan.” Call 360-778-7000.

Lake Samish

The 26-acre park in the Chuckanut Mountains became a Whatcom County Park in 1968. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats and pedal boats are available to rent at the lodge between noon and 7 p.m. daily until Labor Day weekend. There’s no lifeguard on duty, but the swimming area is roped off, away from the boats (beware of motor boats, which are required to slow down at the park area).

There are two trails: The Lakeside Trail, a moderate loop along the shoreline; and the Hillside Trail, a more strenuous network of trails through the forest.

Location: 673 North Lake Samish Drive.

Hours: Open for day use from sunrise to sunset. Swimming is free.

More info: Go to whatcom.us and type in “Samish Park”. Call 360-733-2362.

Lighthouse Marine Park

Ok, you have to be pretty brave to swim in the Salish Sea but this 21-acre park on the edge of Point Roberts – Whatcom’s small peninsula that hangs below the Canadian border – has access to the beach, fishing and boardwalk and is a good place to view orca whales from land. It’s only accessible by boat or by crossing through the neighboring nation (don’t forget your passport or other ID because you’ll cross the border – twice). Campsites and picnic shelters are available by reservation.

Location/directions: 811 Marine Drive in Point Roberts. Take Interstate 5 north through the border at Peace Arch State Park in Blaine. Drive north on Highway 99 in B.C. for about 18 miles, then take Highway 17 west, then turn left onto 56th Street and follow it to the Point Roberts border crossing. Once in Point Roberts, go straight on Tyee Drive and follow it for about 2.5 miles, past the marina, until you reach Lighthouse Marine Park on the left.

Hours: Open for day use from sunrise to sunset.

More info:Go to whatcomcounty.us and type in “Lighthouse Marine Park.” Call 360-945-4911.

Margaret Bikman: 360-715-2273, @bhamentertainme

Spray parks for the kids

Are your kids more likely to run through a sprinkler than jump in a lake? Bellingham has two spray parks that use fresh, potable water and are great for younger children on a hot day. Both also have playgrounds, restrooms and picnic shelters available by reservation.

Location: Fairhaven Park, 107 Chuckanut Drive North, and Cornwall Park, 3424 Meridian St.

Hours: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Labor Day.

More info: Go to cob.org and type in “Cornwall Park” or “Fairhaven Park.” Call 360-778-7000.

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