Take an easy stroll to Sultan River on new trail

I am continuing my campaign to convince my daughter, 4, that hiking is awesome.

Our most recent outing was for some Easter egg hunting on the Sultan River Canyon Trail. I’ve been meaning to check this trail out for awhile. I wrote about it recently as part of a story about kayaking the Sultan River.

Eric Schneider, principal engineer for the PUD, was clearly proud of the trail when I interviewed him.

“It’s quite a scenic trail,” he said. “I’m excited about how it turned out. It really turned out quite nice.”

So on Sunday, I checked it out for myself. Schneider is right, it’s a lovely little trail.

The trail proper is only about a mile long. But before you can hike it, though, you walk about 1.5 miles on an old road that starts near Culmback Dam at Spada Lake.

The road is on a gentle grade, and easy for a young hiker to navigate. My husband and I took turns hiding Easter eggs for Hazel to find along the way.

When you reach the true trail, it’s clearly marked with a sign. The trail is wide and well graded. It still looks branded new, with fresh crushed rock in many areas.

The trip down to the river is quick. You’ll pass some pretty streams and small waterfalls on the way down. Hazel was entranced with the tiny streams. Be sure to check out the fascinating rocks exposed at some of the switchbacks.

Salmonberry are still blooming and the forest is coated in thick, green moss.

The trail dead ends at the river. There are a few flat rocks for picnicking. We saw a dipper diving while we ate lunch.

The trip back up is a moderate climb, gaining about 600 feet in a mile. Hazel could have made it, but she was feeling whiny and my husband was feeling generous. She rode most of the way up on his shoulders.

On the way back down the road, we took turns turning into boulders and unfreezing each other. This game happily carried Hazel all the way back to the car.

I think my hiking campaign is going well.

If you go

To get to the trail, head out to Spada Lake. Take U.S. 2 east past Sultan to the Sultan Basin Road. Turn left and follow it for about 13 miles. At Olney Pass, you’ll see a little kiosk on the right-hand side. Stop and fill out the info requested. Drive on and the road forks. Head left toward the dam. You’ll see a gated road that heads off to the left about a quarter mile before the dam — that’s where you’re going to begin walking. Park just downhill from the road in the wide spot on the road. If you need restrooms, there are some near the dam. You can walk out on the dam if you’d like. This map is helpful. Note: There are signs near the trailhead that say the Sultan River Canyon Trail is closed for construction. Disregard them. The trail is open, the PUD just hasn’t removed the signs yet.

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