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!