Fourth of July Creek—Celebrate Independence Day with these explosive views!

elebrate Freedom of the Hills on the Fourth of July Creek Trail.

Celebrate Freedom of the Hills on the Fourth of July Creek Trail.

Quick Facts:

Location: Central Cascades

Land Agency: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Roundtrip: 11.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,700 feet

Notes: NW Forest Pass or Interagency Pass required; rattlesnakes are common along lower portions of trail.

Green Trails Map: Alpine Lakes East Stuart Range 208SX

Contact: Wenatchee River Ranger District (Leavenworth)

More information: Day Hiking Central Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)

Access: From Leavenworth follow the Icicle Creek Road (FR 76) for 9.4 miles to trailhead located on your right.

Good To Know: dog-friendly, wide sweeping views, historic fire lookout site, limited waters sources–pack plenty, practice Leave No Trace Principles,

Celebrate this Independence Day on the Fourth of July Creek Trail. But be forewarned—you won’t be booming up this steep and hot path. This is a difficult hike that you’ll want to get an early start on it. The switchbacks are relentless traversing south facing slopes, taking the full brunt of the east side of the Cascade Crest sun. Be sure you take plenty of water along.

Start amidst some big pines and firs along Fourth of July Creek. Cross the creek twice and then begin to switchback like there’s no tomorrow up open slopes punctuated by massive ponderosa pines. In early season, marvel at dazzling wildflowers. In any season cherish the expanding views. At about 2.0 miles a spring may be bubbling—but don’t count on it. At about 3.5 miles the grade eases and the trail makes a long traverse before resuming to switchback.

Continue climbing through silver forest and rock gardens before making another long traverse. Across grassy slopes graced with whitebark pine make one final slog, coming to the 6,775-foot crest of Icicle Ridge and a trail junction at 5.3 miles. Now head left on the Icicle Ridge Trail for .3 mile to a junction signed “lookout site.” Head left once again and scramble 500 feet to within ten feet of the 7,029-foot former fire lookout site. The 1929-built lookout actually sat right on the rocky thumb. Don’t even think about it climbing it. Instead enjoy the amazing panoramic views right before you. Mission Ridge, the Entiat and Chelan Ranges, Glacier Peak, Poet Ridge, Big Jim, Grindstone, the Stuart Range and that big mountain right in front of you, Cashmere. What a view! Let freedom ring! Happy Independence Day!

Fourth of July Creek is one of 125 hikes in my Day Hiking Central Cascades (Mountaineers Books) Order your copy of the book today and get more details on this hike and plenty of others!

Heybrook Ridge–New Trail to stunning views of Mount Index

Quick Facts:

Location: Skykomish Valley

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 3.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 780 feet

Contact: Friends of Heybrook Ridge

Map: Green Trails, Index WA- No. 142 (trail not shown)

Notes: Dogs allowed on leash

Access: From Everett follow US 2 east for 35 miles turning left onto the Index Galena Road (just after the steel bridge crossing on the Skykomish River). Then proceed for just shy of a mile to the trailhead located on your right.

Good to Know: kid-friendly, snow-free winter hike, dog-friendly, spring wildflowers

 

Wind through mossy forest up an emerald ridge hovering above the hamlet of Index. And stand mesmerized atop the ridge savoring a sweeping view of daunting Mounts Index and Persis. Savor too the view of Bridal Veil Falls appearing as a silver streak on that hulking verdant wall.

Officially opened in the autumn of 2017, this new trail is quickly becoming a favorite for hikers from near and far. Where a well-built trail now meanders up a steep ridge—in 2006 this near century old forest was slated to be clear-cut logged. But residents of tiny Index, rallied to preserve their scenic green backdrop. They formed a nonprofit organization, the Friends of Heybrook Ridge and began negotiating with the logging company that owned the land. The company agreed to sell the land to them if they came up with the $1.3 million fair market value of the timber.

Through a determined fundraising campaign, the Friends reached out to the conservation group Forterra for help. When the Friends received an anonymous half million dollar donation, their dream of preserving this ridge began to look attainable. Snohomish County was able to match the Friends’ donation and the landowner lowered the price to $1.2 million. With all parties onboard, Snohomish County Parks eventually took ownership of this newly protected hillside. The Friends stay involved as an overseer of the 145-acre park creating a solid partnership with the county parks department. They contacted the Washington Trails Association to help fine tune the first of what is hoped to be several more trails in this new park.

The trail to Heybrook Ridge starts by a kiosk with lots of historical information on the ridge and the movement to protect it. It then takes off for the forest skirting a wetland and crossing a small creek before starting to climb. The grade is moderate with a few steep pitches, but switchbacks and stone steps help ease the ascent. Pass by giant cedar stumps, evidence of past logging. A mature second growth forest of cedars, firs, hemlocks and maples shades the stumps and a luxuriant forest floor. The trail cuts through patches of Solomon’s seal and raspberry bushes. Pacific bleeding hearts (Dicentra formosa) and vanilla leaf line the way too.

Quarter-mile posts along the way help you measure your progress. Near .75 mile the way makes a sweeping switchback near a small cascading creek. Soon afterward the way darts beneath a mossy overhanging ledge. Eventually the climb eases as the tail cuts through a patch of deciduous growth. It then upon cresting the ridge crosses a service road and powerline swath before terminating at a viewpoint at 1.7 miles. Stare across the Skykomish Valley at massive and always impressive Mounts Index and Persis. Admire too Bridal Veil Falls crashing down this formidable wall. Be sure to look east too to the ever impressive Baring Mountain. The view from this spot is far more captivating than then one from the nearby Heybrook Fire tower. And speaking of that 67-foot lookout tower perched 400 feet higher on the ridge—plans are being made to construct a trail connecting it to the trail you just hiked. Not that you need another reason to return, but that certainly will be a good incentive to hike this ridge once again!

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Langus Waterfront Trail visit www.snohomish.org.

For detailed information on many other year-round Snohomish County Hiking destinations, be sure to pick up a copy of my upcoming Urban Trails Everett (Mountaineers Books). Pre-order a copy now, or click here to order one of my many other fine and trusted hiking guidebooks!

Peshastin Pinnacles — Hike though a magical kingdom of rocky spires

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The impressive rock formations offer great views of the Wenatchee River Valley.

Quick Facts:

Location: Wenatchee River Valley near Leavenworth

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 1.5 miles

Elevation gain: 400 feet

Green Trails Maps: Leavenworth- No. 178

Contact: Peshastin Pinnacles State Park

Notes: Discover Pass required; dogs must be leashed.

Access: From Leavenworth follow US 2 east for 9 miles turning left onto North Dryden Road. Reach trailhead at Peshastin Pinnacles State Park in 0.5 mile.

Good to Know:  bird-watching, spring wildflowers, park closed November 1 through March 15.

 

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Pass through the gate to a magical sandstone kingdom.

A longtime favorite haunt among the carabiner crowd, hikers will find the Peshastin Pinnacles much to their liking, too. Several trails weave through these 200-foot high sandstone spires perched on a sun-kissed hillside above the fruited Wenatchee River Valley. When you’re not fixated on the striking outcrops and sculptured slabs surrounding you, peer out over orchards to a backdrop of lofty ridges and snow-capped peaks. In spring the pinnacles are painted with a plethora of pretty blossoms. And there’s always a nice array of avian residents to pique your interest as well.

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Shark fin rocks dot the hillside.

This little 34.5 acre park packs quite a varied landscape within its tight boundaries. Hike through a gate entering this magical kingdom of rocky spires resembling rows of shark teeth protruding from a golden hillside. From the main access, trails diverge left and right. It really doesn’t matter which direction you choose to explore this sculpted landscape. Walking along the park’s periphery makes for a nice 1.5 mile hike with a 400 foot gain of elevation.

Hike clockwise entering a big dry draw. While the surroundings are dull brown most of the year; from March through May, desert butter cups, avalanche lilies and arrowleaf balsamroot add brilliant touches of gold to these slopes. Staying on the main trail, head up a series of tight switchbacks beside the Grand Central Tower; one of the more prominent of the Pinnacles. Bending east the way then side slopes beneath Sunset Slab. Then head up to a small ridge crest where some lonely pines eke out a living.

Pass by the Dinosaur Tower and hang around a bit to observe falcons and hawks riding thermals above the serrated surroundings. Then hike to the Martian Slab for an out-of-this world view of the countryside! The way then steeply switchbacks downward back to the trailhead gate.

 

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

 For detailed information on this and other hikes near Wenatchee and Leavenworth, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades guidebook.

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Peshastin Pinnacles visit nwtripfinder.com

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All content and images on this site are copywritten material and MAY NOT be used without the written permission from Craig Romano, owner of Hike of the Week.

 

 

River View Quarry Trail─Trail along the Snohomish River is a cut above

The trail meanders around the grassy slopes of a reclaimed quarry.

The trail meanders around the grassy slopes of a reclaimed quarry.

Quick Facts:

Location: Lord Hill Regional Park

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 2.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 275 feet

Access: From Monroe, exit SR 522 onto Main Street heading west and immediately coming to a roundabout. Bear right onto Tester Road and proceed 3.0 miles to a T-intersection just after passing under SR 522. Turn left and proceed to South Parking Area. If gated, park at Lower South Parking Area.

Notes: Dogs must be leashed.

Contact: Snohomish County Parks

Good to know: dog-friendly, kid-friendly, snow-free winter hiking

Snohomish County’s largest county park, nearly 1500-acre Lord Hill Regional Park acts as a giant green wedge between bustling Monroe and the city of Snohomish. A land of heavily forested slopes, lush ravines, basaltic outcroppings, wetland ponds, and a wild undeveloped stretch of the Snohomish River; Lord Hill is a haven not only for wildlife, but for 100,000s of folks living nearby. But despite its close proximity to the state’s main urban corridor, Lord Hill rarely gets crowded. And with more than 30 miles of trails (many unofficial and in the process of being closed or rehabilitated) and several more miles of old woods roads, this property provides countless hiking options.

Most visitors begin their park outings from the northern trailhead, reached off of 127th SE Ave from Snohomish. The River View Quarry Trail is accessed from the park’s southern quieter trailhead. This area of the park once housed a beautiful old barn and a large quarry operation. The barn (suspiciously) went up in flames a few years ago and much of the quarry has been reclaimed. But, a handful of relics from the area’s human history can still be found in this area of the park.

From the upper parking lot head head to the Upper Loop. You’ll be returning on the dirt road which you entered the park. Head. It’s possible to explore the river shore across meadows and an old tree farm on a lower trail; but the area is prone to flooding, so best to check it out during the drier months.

Your route passes by some mature cedars and firs eventually coming to the old quarry. Pass beneath cut ledges now quickly being reclaimed by greenery before coming to an old rusting steam shovel and small shack. The way then turns northward climbing steeply up a lush ravine. There are good views south over the river and rolling countryside. Soon come to a small wetland created by an old earthen dam since breached. Bear right and come to a junction.

You can head right for a shorter return, or bear left the preferred route climbing along the edge of a grassy depression—a reclaimed quarry pit. Reach a junction (the park’s unmarked trails can make navigation frustrating or fun) at another wetland, this one quite large and usually hopping with animal activity. The trail left climbs to the River Trail. You want to go right skirting the open depression looking for deer and enjoying good views to the south.

Eventually you’ll reach the Pipeline Trail, which bisects the park following a gas line. Head right passing the junction with the shorter option; then continue left steeply dropping back to your starting point. Feel free to extend your journey on the numerous radiating side trails you passed. A map can be found at the park’s website.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Lord Hill, visit www.snohomish.org.

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Jay Lake — Solitude and camping at Wallace Falls State Park

Quick Facts:

Location: Skykomish River Valley, US 2

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 11.5 miles

Elevation gain: 1,575 feet

Green Trails Map: 

Contact: Wallace Falls State Park 

Notes: Discover Pass required; Dogs must be leashed; Camping requires a permit-attain from park prior to trip.

Access: From Everett, follow US 2 for 28 miles east to Gold Bar. Turn left onto 1st Street and proceed for .4 mile. Then turn right onto May Creek Road and continue for 1.5 miles to Wallace Falls State Park and trailhead.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, kid-friendly, snow free winter hiking; waterfalls; backpacking opportunities

 

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Peaceful Jay Lake on a quiet spring day.

Wallace Falls is one of Washington’s busiest and most popular state parks. You’d be hard pressed to find solitude there even on a rainy day in winter. Yet, while thousands of hikers each month take to trails to the park’s spectacular series of thundering waterfalls, you can still find solitude here. But, you’ll have leave the waterfalls and work for it!

There are miles of trails and old woods roads within this state park and adjacent DNR-property. And several of these routes are lightly traveled. One of the loneliest spots in the park is Jay Lake, reached by a long but enjoyable hike. To reach it, follow hordes of happy hikers to the Woody Trail. Then continue to the Railroad Cut-off Trail taking this short but steep path 0.1 mile to an old logging railroad grade now a wide trail. Turn right and after a third of a mile reach the Greg Ball Trail.

A former board member and director of the Washington Trails Association (WTA), Ball launched WTA’s volunteer trail maintenance program back in 1993. It has since grown into the largest state-based program of its kind. In 2004 at the age of 60, Ball passed away after battling cancer. He had designed this trail to Wallace Lake.

Paralleling the North Fork of the Wallace River, this trail gracefully meanders through mature second growth. After a half mile the way steepens and the forest grows darker. But an agreeable grade and forest soon returns. At about 3.0 miles from the trailhead the river can be seen cascading through a narrow chasm. About a half mile farther the trail terminates at a DNR Road. Turn right on the road for a short 0.1 mile to a junction with an old road taking off left. Then follow this near level forested way for .5 mile to the southern tip of large and tranquil Wallace Lake.

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One of two potentially tricky creek crossings.

Continue left .7 mile on an old road along the lake’s forested shoreline to where the North Fork Wallace River (here more of a creek) flows into the lake at inviting Pebble Beach. Now cross the North Fork (good luck keeping your boots dry) and continue on a lonely stretch of trail to Jay Lake. Pass some moisture loving Sitka Spruce, a rarity this far inland from the coast—then hop across another creek.

One more boot soaking creek crossing must be negotiated before you arrive at the quiet and more than likely deserted Jay Lake. Find a backcountry camping area (inquire within the park for a camping permit) and picnic table set amidst a grove of hemlocks. The lake’s shoreline is brushy making it difficult to reach its waters. But none-the-less, the location is soothing and feels quite remote. Pretty amazing too when you consider that while you listen to quiet breezes and thrush and wren song here at Jay Lake, hundreds of hikers are wearing down the tread near the waterfalls!

For information on lodging and other attractions near Jay Lake visit  www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

For more information on hiking Wallace Falls State Park and other snow-free hiking destinations throughout Western Washington, consult my Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck.Winter Hikes Card DeckGet your copy today!