Hike of the Week for Friday, April 15, 2011
A nice place to go with the flow
Article and photo by Craig Romano
Enjoy exploring wide gravel bars
at Twin Rivers Park.
Location: Stillaguamish River Valley, Arlington
Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks
Roundtrip: 1.0 miles
Elevation Gain: none
Contact: Snohomish County Parks; www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Parks/
Notes: Dogs must be on leash.
Access: From Exit 208 on I-5, head east on SR 530 for 4.0 miles to Arlington. Continue east on SR 530 for another .5 mile turning left into Twin Rivers Park just after crossing the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River.
Just beyond the manicured ball fields of this popular park is a peaceful natural area beckoning to be explored. Twin Rivers Park consists of 50 acres of county-owned land at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Stillaguamish River. Here short trails lead along the riverfronts to gravel bars and through impressive stands of big leaf maples and black cottonwoods.
The cottonwoods here in particular should interest you. Tallest growing of all Northwest broadleaf trees, this species can attain heights exceeding 200 feet. Favoring floodplains and river bottomlands, this tree grows rapidly developing impressive arching canopies. An important tree for wildlife providing both food and shelter, cottonwoods also allow filtered sunlight to hit the forest floor providing an abundance of other shrubs and plants to thrive further enhancing wildlife habitat.
By late spring the trees release plume-bearing seeds resembling cotton. Breezes then scatter the “cotton” across the forest floor and along river banks where it sometimes accumulates to appear like freshly fallen snow. While it’s still some time before the cottonwoods begin to seed, woodland flowers such as trilliums are now beginning to brighten the forest floor. Raspberries and skunk cabbage are also now flowering adding various scents to the woods.
Locate trails at the far end of the parking lot that lead to various points along the river forks. Look for eagles perched in some of the large trees overhanging the river. Look too across the confluence to the old railroad bridge now part of the Centennial Trail. This area is all part of the traditional home of the Stillaguamish peoples, whose name means river people.
If after sauntering through this park you desire more walking, consider a trip to nearby Haller Park just across the river. Here you can begin a walk of miles on the paved Centennial Trail or a .6 mile walk on the Eagle Trail along the Stillaguamish River on a dike.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Twin Rivers Park, visit www.snohomish.org.