Hike of the Week for Friday, January 20, 2012
Snohomish County’s next great long distance rail trail
Article and photo by Craig Romano
Enjoy excellent riverside walking on the Whitehorse Trail.
Location: North Fork Stillaguamish River Valley near Arlington
Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks
Roundtrip: 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 150 feet
Notes: Dogs permitted on leash.
Access: From Exit 208 on I-5 head east on SR 530 for 4.0 miles to junction with SR 9 in Arlington. Continue east on SR 530 for another .1 mile turning left (just after crossing the Centennial Trail) on West Ave. Proceed north 0.1 mile to Haller Park.
Contact: Snohomish County Parks; (425) 388-6600; www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Parks
With completion of the Centennial Trail all the way to the Skagit County border scheduled for this spring—Snohomish County Parks will soon be directing their attention to the Whitehorse Trail. Like the Centennial Trail, Whitehorse is an abandoned rail line—and like the Centennial Trail, once completed the Whitehorse Trail will be popular with hikers, runners, equestrians and cyclists.
Tying in with the Centennial Trail in Arlington, this trail runs east for 28 miles all the way to Darrington. Currently only the easternmost 6 miles are officially open; but the westernmost 3.0 miles from the Centennial Trail to Trafton Farm are currently suitable for walking and horseback riding. Some of the tread is still rocky—and this will soon be improved—but the trail is brushed and many folks have begun enjoying it.
From Haller Park, walk north on the paved Centennial Trail to a restored trestle crossing the Stillaguamish River at its confluence with its north and south forks. Shortly afterwards—about .3 mile from your start, come to a junction. Here a brand new ornate sign directs you right onto the Whitehorse Trail.
Following alongside the North Fork of the Stilliguamish, the trail allows plenty of good river views. Look for salmon and bald eagles looking for salmon. The farther east you hike, the area surrounding the trail grows wilder. Continuing, you soon enter a small ravine where the sights and sounds of the civilized world disappear. Much of the adjacent property is part of the private-but-open-to hiking Pilchuck Tree Farm. Feel free to explore, but sure not to venture off onto private property.
At about 2.25 miles, come to a nice trestle spanning the river. Then carry on farther east traversing an old dairy farm that has since become Snohomish County Park’s 112-acre Trafton Farm. At 3.0 miles, come to a road crossing which provides access to the farm’s buildings. Check out the big red barn before returning west to your vehicle. Hopefully in the near future more of this great trail will be open for hiking.
For information on lodging and other attractions near the Whitehorse Trail, visit www.snohomish.org .