Hovander/Tennant Trail: Ferndale parks offer hiking, history

This short trail makes for a fun family outing as it meanders from Tennant Lake Interpretive Center to Hovander Homestead Park, running next to a bird-rich slough most of the way. The barn and farm animals — goats, chickens, rabbits, peacocks and more — will please the kids while the grownups will enjoy seeing old farm tools on display and touring the historically rich Hovander House, when it’s open for the summer season.

Also impressive when in full summer bloom are the Fragrance Garden near the Tennant Lake Interpretive Center and the Demonstration Garden at Hovander.

Difficulty: Easy, with wheelchair accessibility on a packed-gravel trail.

Elevation gain: None.

Round trip: 0.8-mile.

Hiking time: 15 minutes

Users: Walkers and bicyclists.

Best time to hike: Year-round.

Family friendly: Yes.

Amenities: Restrooms at Tennant Lake Interpretive Center and at Hovander Park, where picnic tables are located.

Dogs: Dogs must be on a leash.

Driving directions: Take Interstate 5 north from Bellingham to exit 262 (Main Street/City Center). Turn right at the stop light onto Main Street. Stay on Main until Hovander Road, and then turn left. Follow to Nielsen Avenue, turn right and follow the road to the end, which empties into the parking lot for Tennant Lake Interpretive Center. Drive time from Bellingham: About 15 minutes.

Getting there: Follow signs to the trail from the parking lot. If you want a longer walk, go on the River Dike Trail, which is 4.4 miles round trip, and the Tennant Lake Marsh Boardwalk, which is a 1.4- mile loop. However, the boardwalk is closed through Jan. 27 for bird-hunting season at Tennant Lake. Meanwhile, you may see Tennant Lake from 36 feet up on the Tennant Lake Wildlife Observation Tower, or use the video camera at ground level.

A note about pets: Dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk and part of the lake because it’s a wildlife sanctuary. Yet, nearly half of Hovander is an off-leash area. Make sure you and your pooch are walking where you’re allowed by checking the map that’s posted near the Interpretive Center parking lot. Or find the dogwalk maps online by going to www.co.whatcom.wa.us/park s, clicking on “Hovander” under “County Parks,” and then selecting “Dog Walk Map & Information.”