Location: Sultan, Snohomish County
Land Agency: City of Sultan
Roundtrip: 2.0 miles
Elevation Gain: level
Access: From Everett, follow US 2 east to Sultan. Turn left onto 3rd Street and drive 0.6 mile north. Then turn left onto High Street and continue 0.1 mile to Osprey Park.
Contact: City of Sultan
Notes: Dogs permitted on leash
Good to Know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly. Snow free winter hike, urban trail
A once neglected parcel of forest along the Sultan River just north of the small community of Sultan is now thanks to many concerned citizens and government officials, a wonderful park and productive wildlife habitat. If you have never visited this 70-plus acre park, you are in for a treat. You can wander on a series of wide well-constructed trails through a mature forest of towering cedars, Sitka spruces, Douglas firs and cottonwoods—and hike along the churning Sultan River. But the real fun is crossing all of the sturdy bridges that span river channels that were built to aid spawning salmon.
Osprey Park’s transformation came about as a result of the relicensing of the Jackson Hydroelectric Dam upriver, requiring that salmon habitat downriver be enhanced. This resulted in the Snohomish County Public Utilities District constructing new channels in the park favoring the spawning fish. This improvement not only makes this parcel excellent wildlife habitat—but also so much fun now to explore. Kids will especially enjoy all of the bridges—and all of the loop possibilities. You can easily hike more than 2 miles here. Signage is sparse, so you may get a little confused exploring here for the first time. But, half the fun will just be roaming around with no agenda.
At the trailhead just north of the adjacent playfields is a kiosk with a decent map of the park. And you can also check out a kiosk displaying a new interpretive map designed by local artist Jacquie Miner. While this map is a little confusing to use for navigation, it is beautifully illustrated showing you all of the park’s wonderful attributes—wildlife, plant life, and recreation opportunities.
Roam the trails looking for woodpeckers, eagles, kingfishers, thrushes, and yes, ospreys. Two trails within the park are named in honor of Bob Knuckey and Susie Hollenbeck, two Sultan residents who recently passed away and had worked tirelessly to improve this park. If you want to witness spawning salmon, you’ll need to return here for a hike in the autumn. At that time watch for Chinook, Coho, chum and pink salmon. For now, look for returning migrating birds setting up nests. Listen to their songs and choruses from amorous frogs. Enjoy too, spring wildflowers adding colorful dabs to the forest floor and nice fragrant touches in the air.
For information on lodging and other attractions in and near Sultan visit: www.snohomish.org.
For detailed information on other great Snohomish County hiking destinations including many in and near county population centers; pick up your free copy of the 2015-16 Hiking in Snohomish County booklet (available at county visitor centers) or download one for free here.
For more great snow free family-friendly hikes throughout Western Washington pick up a copy of my Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck (Mountaineers Books)