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Hike of the Week for Friday, April 1, 2011

Lime Kiln Trail

Hop onboard for an historic hike along the Stillaguamish River

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Lime Kiln Trail
All kinds of historic relics litter the way
on the Lime Kiln Trail.

Quick Facts

Location: Stillaguamish River Valley, Granite Falls

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 7.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Contact: Snohomish County Parks (360) 435-3441; www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Parks/

Green Trails Map: Granite Falls WA- No. 109 (trail not shown)

Notes: Dogs must be on leash; park open dawn to dusk.

Access: Follow SR 92 east to Granite Falls. Turn right onto Granite Ave. Continue south for three blocks, turning left onto Pioneer Street. In .3 mile leave the city limits. Pioneer Street becomes Menzel Lake Road. Continue another .9 mile and turn left onto Waite Mill Road. In .6 mile bear left at a Y-intersection onto a gravel road. Reach turnoff for Robe Canyon Historic Park in 500 feet.

Developed almost entirely by the Volunteers of Outdoor Washington, this delightful and kid-friendly trail delivers you on a unique journey into the heart of Snohomish County’s 970-acre Robe Canyon Historic Park. This sprawling park protects over seven miles of frontage along the South Fork of the Stillaguamish, as well as an old townsite and a century old lime kiln; a 20-foot tall stone structure once used to cook limestone. The powdered lime was then transported by the Everett and Monte Cristo Railway to smelters and mills in Everett. Built in 1892 and abandoned in 1934, a section of this rail line has been resurrected as part of the Lime Kiln Trail.

Before embarking on this scenic and historic hike, take a moment to read the informative kiosk at the trailhead. It’ll help you more fully appreciate the journey you are about to set off on. The trail, wide and graveled takes off through scrappy forest before emerging onto an old road. After .75 mile you’ll leave the road returning to real trail.

Pass Hubbard Pond, a shallow body of water surrounded by old cedars and thickets of salal. After crossing its outlet creek on a sturdy bridge come to a junction. Here a sign directs you left. Descend into a cool, lush, emerald ravine to a bench high above the roaring waters of the South Fork of the “Stilly.” Then, utilizing an old rail bed, the fern-lined trail travels upriver under a canopy of towering moss-draped maples through a narrow canyon.

Pass scores of historic relics littering the forest floor. Old saw blades, bricks, bottles, stove parts, and bed frames testify that this remote locale once supported a thriving community, Cut-off Junction (please leave all artifacts in place for others to enjoy). The fairly-intact lime kiln lies just ahead.

Beyond the old kiln, continue hiking for another .8 mile to where a rail bridge once spanned the river. Here a short loop path takes off left to a graveled bar on the Stilly. It’s a great place for snacking, resting and reflecting on the surrounding area’s fascinating history and charming beauty.

On your way to the trail, stop by Mark’s Country Store home of the brand new Mountain Loop Tourism Bureau. Come for the grand opening on April 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for all kinds of festivities, exhibits and prizes.

Green Trails Maps

Washington Online Weather

Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge