Craig Romano, author of a new outdoor recreation book on trails in the Everett area, runs on the Centennial Trail near the Nakashime Barn in Arlington. (Craig Romano)

Craig Romano, author of a new outdoor recreation book on trails in the Everett area, runs on the Centennial Trail near the Nakashime Barn in Arlington. (Craig Romano)

Where to go hiking this winter, practically in your back yard

Guidebook author’s latest covers lowland trails close to home in Snohomish and Island counties.

Feeling cooped up after a week of snow, but don’t know where to stretch your legs?

Forget a long drive to some scenic but hard-to reach trail. Think closer to home.

Forty-five easy-to-access trails in Snohomish and Island counties are highlighted in Craig Romano’s new book, “Urban Trails Everett: Western Snohomish County, Camano Island, Whidbey Island.”

All of the trails are walkable year-round and can be reached via public transit. They’re suitable for all ages, and some, such as the Lowell Riverfront Trail in Everett, are wheelchair-accessible.

“People don’t always have the time to go out to the back country,” Romano said. “It’s a great way to introduce people to what’s nearby.”

Romano, 57, of Mount Vernon, is an award-winning author of 21 outdoor recreation books, including “Urban Trails” guides for the Bellingham, Olympia, Bremerton and Seattle areas. He is familiar with Snohomish County. He’s been a writer for the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau for 10 years. He spent six months researching his latest book, often running on the trails with his 4-year-old son Giovanni in a stroller. The 240-page guide was published by Mountaineers Books in December.

Part of his motivation for the book was to inspire new trail users or others who have been inactive.

“If you have been sedentary, urban trails are a great place to start and make those first steps,” Romano said. “It’s so empowering to live a life of fitness, to be able to move and see things and have the ability to enjoy the natural world.”

Think of “Urban Trails Everett” as a handbook for veterans and newbies alike. It includes trailhead directions, “Know Before You Go” tips, maps, distances, high points and sidebars on the area’s history and sights. Romano also covers basics guidelines for hiker etiquette and using trails properly.

One of Romano’s favorite walks close to Everett is the 6.6-mile trail on Spencer Island. He calls it the city’s equivalent to Discovery Park in Seattle; both pass through forest and open meadows, have extensive views and are good for bird watching.

“If I was going to write about the 50 best urban trails in Puget Sound, that’d be the one representing Everett,” he said.

Heather Romano and Delfina McCoy on the boardwalk at North Creek Trail in Mill Creek. The two-mile trail is close to the city center. (Craig Romano)

Heather Romano and Delfina McCoy on the boardwalk at North Creek Trail in Mill Creek. The two-mile trail is close to the city center. (Craig Romano)

For a quick escape to nature after work, Romano recommended the North Creek Trail in Mill Creek, which boasts a boardwalk and bird watching. The boardwalk can be accessed from 183rd Street SE.

As for his favorite? That’s an easy choice, he says.

“Anything near Ebey’s Landing in the Coupeville area,” Romano said. “There’s a 12-mile stretch from Greenbank to Oak Harbor that’s lined with parks. Whidbey is definitely the gem of the book.”

Camano Island’s trails include several good for winter walking, such as Camano Ridge Forest Preserve.

Romano said his primary goals for the book was to connect people with the outdoors and encourage exercise. But he’s equally hopefully that new trail users will become advocates for preserving the natural world, much like the effort to save the Japanese Gulch trails in Mukilteo in 2014.

“It’s amazing it survived,” Romano said. “One of the great things about trails and parks is that it’s a great way to build community. Now they have something to take pride in.”

Urban trails

Craig Romano’s book, “Urban Trails Everett: Western Snohomish County, Camano Island, Whidbey Island,” includes, trailhead directions, tips, maps, distances, high points and sidebars on the area’s history and sights. Learn more about Romano at www.craigromano.com.

Directions to local urban trails are also available on Washington Trail Association’s website, www.wta.org.

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