Arlington Airport Trail–Come Fly with Me on a walk around an historic airport

Quick Facts:

Members of the Arlington Running Club frequently train on the Airport Trail.

Members of the Arlington Running Club
training on the Airport Trail.

Location: Arlington

Land Agency: City of Arlington

Roundtrip: 5.5 miles

Elevation gain: 50 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Contact: Arlington Airport Commission

Notes: Dogs must be on leash

Access:  From Everett, head north on I-5 to Exit 206. Continue east on SR 531 (172nd Street NE) for 1.4 miles. Turn left onto 59th Avenue NE and proceed for one mile to airport parking near Bill Quake Memorial Park. Trail can also be accessed from Airport Boulevard and 188th Street NE.

Good to know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, historic, interpretive

The Arlington Airport Trail isn’t exactly a walk in the woods, but it’s no city walk either. This mostly soft surface trail offers a IMG_9656nice place to get a long hike or run in close to the thriving northern Snohomish County communities of Arlington and Marysville. The trail is nearly level, perfect for kids, and dog-friendly too. There are some nice wooded sections, some fields, and if you’re into aviation history (something Snohomish County is noted for)—you’ll be flying high here! There are nine interpretive signs along the trail to enlighten you about this little municipal airport’s interesting past.

The airport was built in 1934 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and was used primarily by private fliers, aerial circuses and the Forest Service for transporting supplies to fight fires. In 1940 the US Navy leased the airport as an auxiliary air station. The runways were expanded to accommodate bombers during the outbreak of World War II. At one time personnel at the airport included over 700 officers and over 2,200 enlisted men. A third runway was constructed in 1945 along with several magazines.

DSCN1806After the war, the airport was used primarily as an emergency landing field for NAS Whidbey. By 1959 it was no longer used by the military and became municipal property. It was a popular spot for drag racing during the 1950s and 60s. But the activity was soon banned as the airport became a busier place for private and cargo planes. Plan on taking some time along the way at the interpretive signs; they contain lots of great old photos.

The trail pretty much heads around the periphery of the airport making a 5.5 mile loop. It’s a great urban hike or excellent running course. It parallels a couple of busy roads but also traverses some quiet groves of mature timber. It also consists a paved section Airport Boulevard. It’s nearly level with a few little dips around the northern limits of the airport. And because you are hiking through a large open area, there are some expansive views of the wooded foothills north and peaks south including Mount Rainier. Of course, various aircraft will more than likely be taking off and landing while you are out hiking.

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Arlington Airport Trail visit www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

For more information on other nearby urban hikes, including the great trails at the Skagit Airport, pick up a copy of my brand new Urban Trails Bellingham (Mountaineers Books)!UrbanTrails_Bellingham_WEB

Snoquera Falls — A touch of the Yosemite Valley in Washington


DSC00867Quick Facts:

Location: White River Valley

Land Agency:  Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 4.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 750 feet

Contact: Snoqualmie Ranger District, Enumclaw office

Green Trails Map: Greenwater no. 238

Notes: Northwest Forest Pass or Interagency Pass required; Dogs permitted on leash

Access: From Enumclaw, follow SR 410 east for 28 miles. Turn left onto Camp Sheppard access road and reach trailhead in 0.1 mile.

Good to Know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, impressive waterfall

 From high on Dalles Ridge, Snoquera Creek plunges more than 400 feet down a sheer rock face. Resembling a scene straight out of Yosemite Valley, Snoquera Falls are indeed a sensational sight. But there’s a catch. If you do this hike late in the summer after a long dry stretch, the falls appear as a mere trickle. Fed primarily by snowmelt, Snoquera Falls are best witnessed in the spring and after periods of heavy rainfall.

Starting from the Camp Sheppard Trailhead, head east immediately coming to an outdoor amphitheater used by the adjacent DSC00872Boy Scout Camp. Here the beautifully built (by the Scouts) Moss Lake Loop Nature Trail circles around for 0.6 mile. Since the hike to the falls is fairly short, definitely consider adding the Moss Lake Loop to your hike. A good portion of this trail traverses an impressive grove of ancient cedars via boardwalks. Moss Lake is actually a large wetland fed by several tumbling creeks, among them Snoquera Creek.

The main trail crosses Snoquera Creek and climbs to a junction. Here the White River Trail runs north and south for miles through thick timber paralleling SR 410. You’ll be returning on the White River Trail section to the left. So continue hiking straight on the Snoquera Falls Trail. Beneath a cool emerald canopy the well maintained trail steadily ascends. Stay left at an unmarked junction where a trail leads right to SR 410.

Continue climbing making a couple of sweeping switchbacks. Pass a few big old growth giants along the way before reaching forest’s edge at the base of a large wall of sheer cliffs. Look up! Pummeling over that vertical rock for more than 400 feet is Snoquera Creek. The first tier of the falls is nearly 300 feet with water plunging straight down. The second tier of the falls has the creek fanning out. If you’ve hiked in the Yosemite Valley, these falls look like they could be right out of that iconic California national park. But cast a glance westward across the White River and you’ll see Sun Top and its radiating verdant ridges—classic Cascade Mountains.

Work your way across rockier tread and cross the creek. You’ll need to rock hop or get your feet wet here as there is no bridge. If the creek is too intimidating to cross, return the way you came. If you can negotiate the crossing you’ll soon come to an unmarked junction. Sure-footed hikers may want to take the very rough and steep trail right which toils its way to the base of the falls. Use extreme caution on this route, as it is laden with loose rocks and when wet can be downright hazardous.

The loop continues north across a decade-old rockslide. The footing may be a little difficult here, but it shouldn’t pose any major problems for most hikers. The way then descends more gently than the approach—traversing beneath high cliffs and making a few switchbacks. At 2.6 miles reach a junction once again with the White River Trail. Now turn left and head up valley on the White River Trail. Hike 1.2 nearly level miles through quiet forest skirting Camp Sheppard and returning to a familiar junction. Then head right to return to your start. If you saved Moss Lake for the return divert onto that loop and savor the serenity before hitting the road to head home.


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For other spectacular waterfall and other hikes throughout Washington state, pick up a copy of my best-selling 100 Classic Hikes Washington (Mountaineers Books)

Heybrook Lookout—Snowline prober above the Forks of the Wild Sky

IMG_1940Quick Facts:

Location: Near Index, Skykomish Valley

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 2.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Access: From Everett follow US 2 east for 37 miles to trailhead located on north side of highway just after entering Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Contact: Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest

Good to Know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike, restored fire lookout


View east towards Baring Mountain.

Need a quick leg stretcher on your next trip across Stevens Pass? Wouldn’t mind a couple of views to go with the exercise as well? Or perhaps just a quick getaway not too far from the city? Have you hiked up to the Heybrook Lookout? It’s a short and sweet (with a little vertical kicked in) hike just outside of Index and a great spring destination when the surrounding high country is buried deep in snow. From the lookout’s lofty balcony, scan the scenic Skykomish Valley, relish the rugged beauty of the Wild Sky Wilderness’ Ragged Ridge, and stare straight across the valley at imposing Mount Index.

From the trailhead quickly leave behind busy US 2 and enter a cool, mossy forest. After angling east at an easy grade and crossing some creeks, reverse direction and start steeply climbing via a series of tight switchbacks. The trail meanders upward under an emerald canopy passing by giant cedar stumps, evidence of past logging activity. Approach a series of boulders carpeted with moss. Then swing east once again and crest the ridge. Continue along the ridge on a gentler incline to eventually bust out of the forest onto a ledge just below Heybrook’s fire lookout. The views here are limited, but they’re far better from the top of the 67-foot lookout tower perched on the 1700-foot ridge.

IMG_1905Ascend seven sets of stairs and from the lookout balcony behold a supreme view of the Skykomish Valley spread before you. Gaze east toward Stevens Pass and ominous Baring Mountain. Then look west to the whitewater frothy Forks of the Skykomish River. Finally turn south toward the massive rock fortress known as Mount Index. Snowfields perpetually cling to its precipitous crags. Bridal Veil Falls careens out of a cleft housing Lake Serene.

Hang around awhile and watch the evening sky cast a crimson hue on the impressive and imposing mountain. And don’t forget to give thanks to the Everett Mountaineers for making all of this viewing possible. It was their idea and hard work that restored the 1964 lookout. And check out the Friends of Heybrook Ridge–they are working hard to develop a large trail system on a new Snohomish County Park on the ridge. Their plans look promising offering some excellent hiking on this close to the city scenic ridge.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Heybrook Lookout, visit

For more information on this hike and many others along the US 2 corridor from Everett to Wenatchee, pick up a copy of my Day Hiking Central Cascades (Mountaineers Books).61ftQ+y-mgL