I’ve been riding one of my “go to” rides another way lately, a way that I feel is much more safe than my normal Nooksack Loop Trail – 1st Loop. The normal loop has you crossing Slater Rd. at Ferndale Rd, and I just don’t like going anywhere near Slater on a bike, especially when cross traffic doesn’t stop, is moving fast, and may have just left the casino up the road. This other way crosses Slater at a light, with a bike lane and the long straight shot of Ferndale Rd. is replaced with winding through some rural netherlands between Bellingham and Ferndale.
Here’s the other way:
- From Ferndale, go right/south on Hovander Rd, follow Hovander Rd. across the tracks, through the swamp, and to the left as it becomes Smith Rd. then Right on LaBounty Drive (narrow in spots), Left on Sunset, Right onto Rural, then up to the light where Rural crosses Slater.
- After crossing Slater at the light, staying on Rural Ave means that you have to correctly negotiate a series of weird jogging type intersections. the key to successfully negotiating this section of the route is always turning right to keep on Rural Ave until it finally reaches Marine Drive, where you will again turn right.
- Continue west along Marine and at the Nooksack, dive into the trail on the right and follow it upriver until you again reach Slater. This time, manhandle your bike under the bridge, on what is becoming a more well established trail, and pop back up on a trail that is the southern most section of the Hovander Park trail system. Continue riding north along the river, through Hovander Park and back into Ferndale.
Last Sunday I rode this loop on my new to me Kona Dew Plus. I’ve not really gone through the bike the way I’d like to but I did make sure everything is tight and I also put on a set of super tough Schwalbe Marathons that I had hanging in the garage. The combination of big 700c wheels and stiff aluminum frame is quite a different ride than the steel Burley with balloon tires that I normally ride on this loop. I can’t say it was harsh, but it was definitely more stiff on the gravel sections. The road sections though were faster, as would be expected with the larger wheels.
So with 11.5 miles of road, gravel and trail, as well as the avoidance of the dangerous Slater crossing, this is now my goto version of my goto loop in Ferndale.
Google Map – note that Google doesn’t think that the path runs completely through Hovander, but rest assured that it does.