Start the year off right with a guided hike at state parks

  • Thu Dec 27th, 2012 5:32pm
  • Life

By Mike Benbow Special to The Herald

If one of your resolutions this year is to get in more hikes, a group called America’s State Parks has a deal for you starting New Year’s Day.

Last year, the group initiated what it’s calling First Day Hikes in parks in all 50 states, each guided by experts who can talk about what you’re seeing. Some 14,000 people took part, logging about 30,000 miles.

The hikes this year include 13 in Washington state, with four in Snohomish and Island counties. The local walks include Cama Beach and Camano Island state parks on Camano, Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey and Wallace Falls State Park in Gold Bar.

The hikes are either easy or moderate. They begin in the late morning or early afternoon. Don’t forget to bring warm clothes, hiking boots, water and snacks.

The other thing you need to participate is a state Discover Pass on your vehicle. You also can purchase a day pass for $10. The hikes will be dependent on weather, meaning if it snows they’ll likely be canceled.

Here’s some basic information on the local hikes:

Cama Beach

1880 SW Camano Drive

This is a fairly easy 1.5-mile hike in one of the state’s newest parks. It will run from 1:30 to 3 p.m. beginning at the Cama Beach welcome center at the beginning of the park.

The walk will explore the wooded areas of the park and include information on the flora and fauna.

There are a couple areas with views of Puget Sound and (on clear days) the Olympic Range. The areas have informational signs.

Dogs are welcome as long as they’re on leash.

Camano Ranger William Hoppe said the trails are a little muddy and involve some elevation gain, so hikers should dress appropriately.

He noted the trail usually includes a visit from a local bald eagle.

“We’ll take a pretty slow pace because I’m sure people will have questions,” Hoppe said.

Open to all ages. The walk will end at the Cama Center with free coffee and cookies.

To get there: Take Highway 532 through Stanwood onto Camano Island. Go left on E. Camano Drive and follow the signs to the park. Cama Beach is a short distance past Camano Island State Park.

Cancellation info: 360-387-1550.

Camano Island State Park

2269 S. Lowell Point Road

Adjacent to Cama Beach, this park will offer a slightly longer walk of 2.5 miles that is described as moderate.

It starts at 1 p.m. at the Bluff Trailhead near the Lowell Point parking area. You’ll hike the trail between the two state parks. Like Cama Beach, the walk is set to end at 3 p.m. so hikers can join the other group for coffee and cookies at Cama Center.

A shuttle will return hikers to the parking area. All ages can take part.

To get there: Same as Cama Beach.

Cancellation info: 360-387-3031.

Deception Pass

41020 Highway 20

Hikers will start at 11 a.m. and walk until 1 p.m. beginning at Bowman Bay parking area. The 1.5-mile hike is moderate and will follow Rosario Beach, then go to Rosario Head for views of Deception Island and Puget Sound.

There’s a steep section of the walk that might be tough for younger children, but the hike is open to all ages. Dogs are not allowed.

To get there: Take I-5 north of Mount Vernon to exit 230 and Highway 20. Head west on Highway 20 and go over the Deception Pass bridge. The park is 1 mile south on the right.

Cancellation info: 360-675-3767, ext. 31.

Wallace Falls

14503 Wallace Lake Road

The longest of the local walks, this one is a moderate hike of about 4.5 miles. It starts at 11 a.m. and should last until 3 p.m.

Hikers start at the Wallace Falls trailhead and follow the Woody Trail.

Along the way, you’ll see several waterfalls and what’s described as the winter face of the park’s old-growth forest.

The hike will travel to the middle of spectacular Wallace Falls, a 265-foot drop. Open to all ages. Leashed dogs OK.

To get there: Take U.S. 2 east to Gold Bar. Follow the signs 2 miles northeast to the park.

Cancellation info: 360-793-0420.

To learn more

For more information go to www.americasstateparks.org/first-day-hikes and select a local park.