By Jessi Loerch
My little family had a hiking breakthrough this weekend. My daughter, nearly 4, hiked up and down the Heybrook Lookout Trail. By herself. With only the tiniest bit of whining.
I am over the moon.
I know, I know. It’s a short trail. But it has a decent amount of gain and she was happy 95 percent of the trip. I can’t help myself. This tiny little accomplishment and I’m suddenly overcome with delusions of grandeur. How old would she need to be to hike the PCT?
We went up on Sunday, a spectacularly nice day. Before we left, I told Hazel we were hiking and she needed to get dressed. She got dressed in … a party dress. I decided ruining a dress was worth her enthusiasm. She put a pair of leggings under the dress and we headed out. (It amused me that she was wearing a dress for hiking while crowds of people were observing an annual tradition and climbing Mount St. Helens in a dress. Maybe she’s training for that.)
The dress was a good decision. Hazel is in a social phase right now. She loved the attention she got on the trail. She scrambled up and down like a mountain goat. The hike up took us nearly an hour and a half. We did just as much stopping as we did walking. She pointed out and identified the huckleberry bushes. She admired every tiny stream. By the time we reached the top, my pockets were bulging with the pine cones she’d collected. (She wanted to bring them home for her fish. She won’t believe me that fish aren’t actually very fond of pine cones.)
While we saw many groups on the trail, we actually had the lookout to ourselves. We climbed up the stairs and had a snack at the top while enjoying the excellent views. Baring Mountain is particularly impressive from there. I discovered that having my daughter with me reignites my fear of heights. I’m working on that. No need to pass on my phobias to her.
If you haven’t hiked Heybrook yet, give it a try. Hazel wasn’t even the youngest kid hiking the trail. One mom was carrying a tiny baby and another couple had a girl who looked to be about 3 walking between them.
And if you don’t have a kid with you, you could probably be up and down the trail in about an hour. It’s a quick trip.
And, because I’m sure you’re wondering, the dress totally survived the trip. Only a few minor mud splatters.
If you go
Heybrook Lookout is off U.S. 2. To get there, head east. The trailhead is between MP 37 and 38 on the left-hand side of the road. The trail itself is somewhere between 2 and 2.6 miles roundtrip, depending upon what source you look at. It gains about 900 feet. The trail has a few big steps, but nothing that my daughter’s legs couldn’t handle. Small kids will probably need your hand on the way down in some steep spots.