Middle Fork Snoqualmie River

The Middle Fork Snoqualmie makes for a wild and wonderful winter hike.

The Middle Fork Snoqualmie makes for a wild and wonderful winter hike.

Quick Facts

Location: Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley near North Bend

Land Agency: National Forest Service

Roundtrip: 12.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 700 feet

Access: From Seattle, take I-90 east to exit 34 east of North Bend turning left onto SE Edgewick Road (468th Ave SE). Proceed for .6 mile turning right onto the Middle Fork Road. At 2.5 miles, pavement ends. Continue for 9.0 agonizingly slow and bumpy miles to trailhead.

Note: NW Forest Pass required.

Contact: Snoqualmie Ranger District North Bend office: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest; www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs

If you can survive the horrendous road (or you can wait until it’s paved—project begins in summer 2013) you are in for one of the finest snow-free (usually) winter hikes in Western Washington. The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Trail offers a near wilderness experience following a glacier-fed rushing river through a deep notch of a valley shadowed by craggy peaks. Through deep timber, hike along the river watching for eagles and elk while listening to the voices of the First Peoples, trappers, miners, and lumbermen who passed through here before.

Start by crossing the Middle Fork on a beautiful arched suspension bridge. Then turn left at a junction and head upstream enjoying spectacular views of Garfield Mountain hovering above the Taylor River confluence. The well-built trail meanders through groves of old-growth timber beneath the sheer cliffs of Stegosaurus Butte.

At 1.0 mile, start climbing away from the river and crest a small bench providing excellent views up valley. The trail then drops a bit before utilizing a long abandoned logging rail line. Cross many side creeks, most of them bridged (expect to get your boots wet in winter) before reaching river’s edge at a big bend at 3.0 miles. Shortly afterward come to a campsite; and then begin climbing a steep riverside bluff.

The trail loses 100 feet before climbing again reaching a bridge across cascading Cripple Creek at 5.0 miles. Continue high above the river reaching a junction with the Dingford Creek trail at 6.0 miles in a beautiful grove of ancient cedars. This is a good turning around point. But first before returning, hike down to the bridge crossing the Middle Fork—and admire this wild waterway.

The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Trail is one of 50 hikes featured in my Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck (Mountaineers Books). Check it out for some great suggestions to snow-free hiking destinations.

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