Location: City of Monroe
Land Agency: Monroe Parks and Recreation Department
Roundtrip: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Notes: Dogs must be on leash; Trail is prone to flooding during periods of heavy rain.
Access: From Everett follow US 2 east to Monroe. Turn right onto SR 203 (Lewis Street). Proceed past Main Street traffic lights and within a short distance come to Al Borlin Park located on your left. Trail to Buck Island begins here.
Good to know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike,
Situated within the city of Monroe along the Skykomish River at its confluence with Woods Creek, is 90-acre Al Borlin Park. Comprising of a peninsula called Buck Island (which during floods becomes an island), trails meander along riverbanks and beneath a canopy of towering maples and cottonwoods here. A few Sitka spruce can be found growing on the island too—quite a way from the coast where it is prevalent. There are plenty of good viewing areas along the Skykomish River too for observing birds and salmon.
Start by crossing Woods Creek on a big sturdy bridge reaching a nice grassy picnic area at the confluence. Contrast the two waterways. One—the Skykomish is a classic Northwest river. The other—Woods Creek looks more like it belongs in the Louisiana Bayou country. Now walk on an old gravel road along the Skykomish River taking in great views of one of Snohomish County’s most important waterways. When the river levels are low, you can venture out onto some gravel bars.
Soon come to a junction. You can walk left through the heart of the island under a canopy of big hardwoods; or continue right along the river eventually coming to a parking area usually filled with rigs of hopeful anglers. From here you can retrace your steps or walk the fishing access road to return on one of the two interior trails which will direct you back to your start. The park isn’t terribly large, so feel free to just amble and walk in circles if you may!
In your wanderings you may notice remains of old railroad trestle. At one time, the longest covered railroad bridge in the world traversed Buck Island. The 450 foot long bridge was replaced in the 1960s. Old-timers may recall when Buck was a bustling place with passing freight trains. Now however the island remains a peaceful place throughout the year—and especially so during the winter months.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Buck Island visit www.snohomish.org.
For lots of other snow-free winter hiking options, pick up a copy of my Winter Hikes of Western Washington card deck (Mountaineers Books).