The Hidden Gem

August 10, 2012


Kat and I got out of the city (Seattle) last weekend. We took the AMTRAK (reserved two spots on the luggage car bike rack) up to Bellingham with plans to bike out to Birch Bay. Not far out of Bellingham our map indicated a bike trail that ran along the Nooksack River. We always enjoy the opportunity to get off the road, so we pulled into an empty gravel parking lot.

There were no signs. We pedaled 50 yards along what looked to be a trail. It dead ended in a marsh. We were disappointed, but the traffic out on the road wasn't bad. We hadn't pedaled more than a quarter mile when Kat said, "There's got to be a trail back there. We just missed it."

We turned around and pedaled back. This time we saw the faintest sign of a trail headed along the river. It was so overgrown, we wondered if we'd be able to ride it.

It turned out to be a delightful meander along the Nooksack River. It wasn't long. Maybe five miles. But we were entertained by the bird life (herons, swallows, finches) and the occasional freaked-out field mouse that would dart across our path.

The trail (officially the Tennant Lake to Marine Drive Trail) ends at the Tennant Lake Park Interpretive Center and Fragrance Garden. We walked along the extensive boardwalk through the marsh, climbed the observatory tower and smelled our way through the fragrance garden. 

But our favorite part of the day was our pedal along the river on a bike trail that was barely there. Well worth the extra effort and our day trip's hidden gem.

Photos: By Willie Weir


SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at


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