By Rose McAvoy
Hopefully that last post inspired you to pack a snack and hit the trail! In case you are wondering where to go for your first hikes, here are my reviews of the trails we have explored this month.
2.2 miles round trip, 200 ft elevation gain. Northwest Forest Pass required. Off the Mountain Loop Highway near Granite Falls. Nice picnic area at the trail head with privy toilets (this freaked out our four year old who was unnecessarily concerned that he might fall in the hole). The hike is a barely noticeable climb through woods dense enough to keep you shaded while feeling light and bright on the forest floor. Many parts of the trail are covered by board walk and all of it is wide and well maintained. With the exception of one or two uneven patches, a rugged stroller would have little trouble with this trail. The caves are neat but the real views are the soaring cliffs and cascading waterfalls above them. Please follow the posted warnings and admire the caves from the trail. People have died inside the caves, which have been known to spontaneously collapse.
2.6 miles round trip, 850 ft elevation gain. Northwest Forest Pass required. No toilet facilities (welcome to nature!). Park along highway 2 just passed mile post 37 east of Goldbar. The Washington Trails Association Guide appropriately describes it as, “short and sweet but a tad steep…” This hike starts climbing right from the highway. There are numerous parts of the trail where those hikers with shorter legs may need to scramble a bit to keep going but it didn’t slow down our sturdy four year old. Along the way there were boulders and logs to perch on if you needed to catch your breath. For the best views, climb to the top of the 67 ft lookout tower.
6 mile loop between the Martin Creek and Scenic trailheads, 700 ft elevation gain. Northwest Forest Pass required. Privy toilets are available in the parking areas. The 9 miles of Iron Goat trail may be accessed from any of three parking areas all off highway 2 east of Skykomish. This trail has an incredible history and it is very much worth doing a little reading up before hitting the trail. The land is the former site of the Great Northern Railway that connected St. Paul to Seattle. The trail passes by the now abandoned snow sheds and even through some of the original train tunnels. The northern most trailhead at Wellington is the location of the deadliest avalanche and train disaster in United States history.
This trail is impressively maintained thanks to a veritable army of hiking and rail history enthusiasts. Due to work of the volunteers and the nature of the site the lower section of the trail between Martin Creek and Scenic is ADA accessible and stroller friendly. There is much to view and explore on this lower trail making it a stellar hike for budding outdoors enthusiasts. The upper trail between the same points is narrower and better for more sure footed hikers with more stamina. The full loop includes a mile of steep switch backs between Windy Point and Scenic but the upper trail has its own set of incredible scenery and several spectacular view points.
Find further details of these and many more great hikes for all abilities on the Washington Trails Association website.
Also read: Explore NW for fun outdoor activities in and around Snohomish County. Start with this article which includes a review of the Haybrook Lookout hike and nearby Barclay Lake hike. I completely agree with the recommendation that both are terrific for a range of ages and abilities.