Location: Snoqualmie Valley south of Monroe
Land Agency: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
Roundtrip: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: None
Notes: Discover Pass required; Crescent Lake is an active hunting area, so be aware of hunting seasons.
Access: From Everett follow US 2 east to Monroe. Turn right onto SR 203 and follow for 3.8 miles turning right onto 203rd Street SE. After 0.2 mile come to a junction and turn right onto Tualco Road. In another 0.2 mile turn left onto Tualco Loop Road and reach trailhead after 0.1 mile.
Contact: WDFW North Puget Sound Region
Good to Know: Kid-friendly, Dog-friendly, bird-watching, snow-free winter hike
Ever wonder where the Snohomish River begins? It starts right where the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers converge—about three miles south of downtown
Monroe. Much of the surrounding land at the confluence of these two rivers is lush and saturated floodplain supporting mature riparian forest and productive farmland. Crescent Lake sits right between the rivers near their confluence. A 10-acre oxbow lake that was once part of the Snoqualmie River, it is now the centerpiece of a 360-acre wildlife area.
Managed primarily for pheasant and waterfowl hunting, hikers and birdwatchers will delight in visiting here as well. Crescent Lake is one of the best spots in Snohomish County for observing wintering tundra and trumpeter swans. From November to April, a large gathering of these beautiful birds can often be seen feeding in the refuge’s fields.
From the trailhead walk an old service road 0.1 mile to a bridge. Cross over a large marshy area and arrive at a field. About a third of the refuge is farmed through sharecropping agreements. The grains left over in winter after the harvest provide feed for the wintering avian residents.
There are no formal trails on the property, but there are several miles of mowed pathways around the farm lands and through the forest. An excellent exploration can be had by heading right at the bridge crossing to another farmed area. Then continue into a grove of beautiful, mature, and gigantic maples and cottonwoods. Continue for about 0.7 mile and you’ll come to Crescent Lake. Walk along the lake and through forest for about another 0.2 mile to the marshy outlet of the lake. You’ll want to turn around here and either return on paths left along Riley Creek or paths right to more fields abutting Crescent Lake.
The creek side paths tend to get pretty wet and muddy during the winter and spring months, so you may want to stick to the field periphery. And you’ll get some good views of Lord Hill and Mount Pilchuck from the fields. An out and back to Crescent Lake’s end with a return around the field makes for a nice 2.2 mile hike. It’s short, but with lots of bird watching opportunities, plan on spending a few hours.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Crescent Lake visit www.snohomish.org.For detailed information on other nearby snow-free winter hikes, consult my Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck.