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Hike of the Week for Friday, March 19, 2010

Spencer Island

A slough of surprise await you

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Spencer Island
The Jackknife bridge helps you cut to
the chase getting you on your way!

Quick Facts

Location: Snohomish River Delta, Everett

Contact: Snohomish County Parks

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks; (425) 388-6600; http://www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Parks

Roundtrip: 2.6 miles

Elevation Gain: None

Notes: Dogs prohibited; Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife manages northern half of island which is open seasonally to hunting; http://wdfw.wa.gov

Access: In Everett, take Exit 195 off of I-5 turning left onto East Grand Ave. In .5 mile bear right onto East Marine View Drive following for 1.0 mile to SR 529. Continue north on SR 529 onto Smith Island and after .5 mile turn right onto 35th Ave NE (signed for Langus Riverfront Park) Now proceed south .5 mile turning left onto Smith Island Road. At 1.0 mile bear right at a Y-intersection; at 2.0 miles, road takes a sharp right becoming 4th Street NE. Continue for .3 mile passing water treatment plant to a parking lot. Park here.

Just minutes from downtown Everett, Spencer Island sits in the heart of the Snohomish River Estuary, a wildlife rich ecosystem where salt and fresh waters mix. Surrounded by snaking sloughs, this 400-acre island offers a slew of scenic delights from glistening mudflats to glimpses of snow-capped peaks.

Starting by a Water Treatment Plant, walk .4 mile down gravel 4th Street to the trailhead at the old Jackknife Bridge. A paved trail leads right 2.0 miles to Langus Riverfront Park, a worthy side trip. Continue straight onto the historic bridge which once spanned nearby Ebey Slough from 1914 to 1980. In 1993 it was moved here to Union Slough providing pedestrian access to Spencer Island.

Once on the island, come to a junction. The trail left follows a levee north to WA Fish and Wildlife land terminating in one mile. Directly ahead is a short trail leading to a boardwalk providing excellent wildlife viewing. An old barn once stood here until 2006 when it was toppled by wind. For a nice loop follow the levee trail south. In .2 mile, come to a junction with the Cross Island Levee Trail, your return. Continue right, soon arriving at a bridge, one of several spanning breaches in the levee. These breaches were intentionally made by land managers to allow much of the island to revert back to a tide-influenced wetland. Scan the reeds, cattails, and sedges for a myriad of waterfowl and songbirds. Enjoy too, views across the saturated flats to Mount Pilchuck and Three Fingers.

Continue hiking on the levee trail towards the southern tip of the island. The way then turns north following alongside Steamboat Slough. Cross another breach bridge and come to a junction. The trail north dead ends at an un-bridged breach. Head left on the Cross Levee Trail traversing wetlands. Look for hawks, herons, harriers, widgeons, ruddy and wood ducks. Look too for bald eagles, river otters, coyotes, and deer. In .5 mile the Cross Levee Trail leads back to the main trail. Turn right to return to the Jackknife Bridge.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Spencer Island, visit www.snohomish.org

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