Greider Lakes — shimmering subalpine lakes in the Sultan Basin

IMG_2952Quick Facts:

Location: Sultan Basin

Land Agency: Washington Department of Natural Resources

Roundtrip: 9.6 miles

Elevation gain: 1,600 feet

Green Trails Map: Mountain Loop Highway 111SX

Contact: Snohomish County Public Utility District

Notes: Register (no fee) at entrance to watershed. Dogs must be on leash.

Access: From Everett follow US 2 east to Sultan. At a traffic light just past Milepost 23 turn left onto Sultan Basin Road. Follow for 13.2 miles (pavement ends at 10.2 miles) to an information kiosk. Stop and sign-in acknowledging that you understand the rules and regulations for visiting the Sultan Basin which is Everett’s public water supply. Now continue 500 feet farther to a Y-intersection bearing right onto South Shore Road (formally FR 61). Reach trailhead at South Shore Recreation Site in 5.3 miles.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, exceptional wildlife viewing, old-growth, backcountry camping opportunities

Pack it in Pack it out

Leave the bluetooth speakers home

Practice Leave No Trace Principles

Be a good trail steward

Not far from sprawling Spada Lake, the source for Everett’s drinking water, are two quiet backcountry lakes that make for one refreshing (and at times challenging) hike. The trail is steep in spots with some rocky sections. But it’s shaded all the way, offering protection from spring rains or summer sun. Most of the forest is mature even-aged second growth. The original forest succumbed to fire many years ago. Remnant charred snags attest to this.

Start by following the trail to a decommissioned road. This hike used to be fairly short, but it is nearly double the distance now with the new road-trail mileage. You’ll make more than a dozen creek crossing including two which may soak your boots. One can be bypassed, but you’ll miss the pretty cascade falling at the crossing.  After 2.3 miles of easy going, come to the original trailhead. Locate the original trail taking off right skirting the Reflection Ponds, two little insect-incubating wetland pools responsible for feeding area frogs, dragonflies, flycatchers, and sparrows. A side trail diverts left to circle the ponds. Consider taking it after you reach the Greider Lakes for a slight variation on the return; or as an easy kid-friendly destination.


Original trailhead

The trail wastes no time climbing—ascending 1,000 feet on 40 switchbacks over a course of 1.5 miles. Stay determined—the grade eventually eases, the tread becomes more agreeable and old growth fills the backdrop. Little Greider Lake is reached first. It’s a peaceful body of water surrounded by attractive forest. It also contains some nice campsites (first come first serve). Big Greider Lake is 0.4 mile farther. Cross Greider Creek on a big bridge and continue hiking. While Big Greider is only 35 feet higher in elevation than Little Greider, its surroundings are entirely different than the lower lake. Cradled in a mostly open bowl flanked by slopes of exposed cliffs and avalanche chutes, water crashes down off of the open wall surrounding it. And although Big Greider sits at an elevation just shy of 3,000 feet, it has the appearance of being much higher thanks to heavy winter snows due to its location within the Puget Sound Convergence Zone. There are a handful of backcountry camps at this lake as well (first come first serve).

In springtime the lake basin is awash in wildflower colors. In autumn, ground hugging berry bushes set the landscape afire in red. And aside from the flora, the area is a good place for observing wildlife, too. Black bears sightings are fairly common. So, expect company in those vibrant berry patches. Stay for awhile and return often.


Trilliums add brilliant colors to forest floor in late spring.

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Greider Lakes, visit

 For more information on this hike and many others nearby, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades Book  (Mountaineers Books)61ftQ+y-mgL



Barlow Point–Little known lookout site on Mountain Loop Highway


While the forest is growing in around Barlow Pass, there are still some decent views to be had from this old lookout post.

Location: Mountain Loop Highway near Granite Falls

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 2.5 miles

High Point: 3,222 feet

Elevation gain: 850 feet

Difficulty: moderate

Green Trails Map: Sloan Peak, WA- No. 111

Contact: Darrington Ranger District: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest 

Note: Northwest Forest Pass or Inter-agency Pass required

Access: From Granite Falls, follow the Mountain Loop Highway east for 31 miles to Barlow Pass and trailhead located on your left.

 Good to know: Dog-friendly, kid-friendly, historic,

Are you interested in a nice little leg stretcher off of the Mountain Loop Highway sans the crowds? Check out Barlow Point, a little knob of a peak just above Barlow Pass and just below Mount Dickerman. Straddling the the Sauk-Stillaguamish Divide, this little summit hosted a fire lookout form 1935 to 1964. Much of the surrounding forest went up in flames in 1905, sparked by a locomotive heading to the mines of Monte Cristo. Large fire-scarred snags and a uniform forest a century old attests to this004 past event. And while the surrounding forest has been recovering nicely since that conflagration, Barlow Point’s rocky summit still remains semi-open providing some pretty nice views of an impressive wall of surrounding peaks.

From the 3,222-foot pinnacle, take in good close-ups of Sheep Mountain, Twin Peaks, Mount Dickerman, Stillaguamish Peak, and Big Four Mountain. Enjoy too a perspective of Bedal Peak, Spring Mountain and Mount Pugh. And while you’re on Barlow peering at the peaks, be sure to peek down at the rocky ground at a profusion of penstemon. This little showy flower resembling pink and purple trumpets, adorns Barlow’s ledges.

The hike starts from the parking area at Barlow Pass, once the site of a Forest Service Guard Station and now the site of a kiosk. A side trail immediately branches out left to follow the old railroad grade that once connected Monte Cristo to Everett. A quarter mile farther, another trail branches left, the old Government Trail. Both of these paths make for good rainy day walking and they can be hiked as a loop. The Barlow Point Trail continues right climbing steeply under a cool canopy of evergreens. It’s a short climb, and before you know it, you’ll be sitting on the point soaking up those aforementioned views. Good chance too, you’ll be soaking them up alone—a pretty rare occurrence off of the busy Mountain Loop Highway, but not on this oft forgotten trail.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Barlow Point visit www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

For information including maps on more than 100 nearby hikes, consult my best-selling and trusted Day Hiking North Cascades (Mountaineers Books)0486

Green Trails Maps available in Granite Falls at Granite Falls Ace  Hardware and Mountain Loop General Store.

Sultan River Canyon Trail — A near yet remote canyon housing big trees and a wild stretch of river

DSC03642Quick Facts:

Location: Sultan Basin

Land Agency: Snohomish County Public Utility District 

Roundtrip: 4.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Green Trails Map: Mountain Loop Highway 111SX

Access:  From Everett follow US 2 east to Sultan. At a traffic light just past Milepost 23 turn left onto Sultan Basin Road. Follow for 13.2 miles (pavement ends at 10.4 miles) to an information kiosk. Stop and sign-in acknowledging that you understand the rules and regulations for visiting the Sultan Basin which is Everett’s public water supply. Then bear left at a Y-intersection and continue 1.6 miles to parking area and trailhead.

Contact:  Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest 

Notes: Register (no fee) at kiosk at watershed entrance; dogs permitted on leash

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly,




Opened in 2015, this new trail takes you deep into the Sultan River Canyon where towering old growth trees and steep slopes shade a remote section of the Sultan River. The hike starts on a gated dirt road near the entrance of the parking area. Walk this road through pleasant forest gradually climbing about 250 feet.

After one mile, come to the beginning of the actual trail which is clearly signed. Now begin your descent into the deep dark canyon. Via a good grade the way switchbacks downward into the rugged canyon. The steep slopes here prevented past loggers from harvesting the canyon’s towering old trees. You’ll pass some impressive ancient giants. You’ll pass some nice small seasonal cascades too.


At 2.2 miles reach the canyon’s lush bottom and the rippling Sultan River. During the summer months, sunlight reaches the canyon floor allowing you to prop on a riverside rock and enjoy a sunny spot along the river. Watch for dippers flitting in the cool waters. After enjoying this quiet and remote spot prepare for your return journey where a 600 foot climb out of the canyon waits for you.


For information on lodging and other attractions near the Sultan Basin visit: www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

 For detailed information on this and other area hikes along US 2, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades, which contains 125 hikes complete with maps61ftQ+y-mgL

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

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