Location: SR 9 just south of Skagit County line
Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks
Roundtrip: 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Access: From Arlington (junction of SR 530-SR 9), follow SR 9 north for 7.6 miles turning left into park. Proceed .1 mile to parking area.
Notes: Dogs must be on leash.
Contact: Snohomish County Parks
Good to Know: kid-friendly, wheelchair and jogger stroller friendly, snow-free winter hike, dog-friendly, paved rail trail
The Nakashima Barn County Park offers access to the northern trailhead of the extremely popular Snohomish Centennial Trail. Here at the restored heritage barn, you can set out on four miles of rural and wooded trail all the way to Bryant. Heck, you can set out from the barn for 29.5 miles all the way to the city of Snohomish. But that’s probably better done by bike than by hike.
While the main draw of the park will definitely be the trail, be sure to check out the restored barn. The barn’s farm has a long, fascinating, and somber history. Farming operations began on this rolling property just south of Lake McMurray shortly after the turn of the 20th century by Daniel Waldo Bass and his wife Sophie. Sophie’s grandfather was A. A. Denny, the “Father of Seattle,” who landed at Alki Point in November 13, 1851. In 1937 Bass sold the farm to Japanese-American Takeo Nakashima. Nakashima with the enlistment of his family continued a dairy operation on the property.
However, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Nakashima family was sent in 1942 to internment camps in Idaho and California and was forced to sell their farm. Over the years the farm changed hands many times and dairying operations eventually ceased. In 1997 the Trust for Public Land purchased 89 acres of the farm including the only remaining structure, the barn, and turned it over to the county to become a park. In 2007 the barn was listed on Washington’s heritage barn register, becoming the state’s first and only one so far belonging to an Asian-American farming family. It was restored this year and houses murals of historic photos.
While the farm once encompassed 1,200 acres, most of the surrounding land is still rural. The county park preserves mainly wetland meadows. Most of the land west of the park is thick timber belonging to the Pilchuck Tree Farm and is managed for sustainable forestry, recreation and wildlife management.
From the barn to Bryant, the Centennial Trail passes mainly through woodlands, presenting a much wilder side than its southern sections. Follow the trail from the barn passing the dedication monument and skirting a wetland pool. Then cross the creek named Tributary 80. Shortly afterward the trail bends south. Here an unpaved (and open for hiking) section of the Centennial Trail heads north into Skagit County. Trail advocates hope that someday soon this section too will be paved and extended all the way to the Cascade Trail.
Explore if you wish or keep following the Centennial Trail south through a thick forest of maple, alder, fir and the occasional Sitka spruce, coming to Pilchuck Creek at about 2.6 miles. This is a good spot to turn around. But, if you feel like continuing, cross the creek on a high bridge and continue another 1.4 miles to Bryant where you can stop at the country store for a snack, or keep going all the way to Arlington—and beyond!
For information on lodging and other attractions near the Nakashima Barn visit www.snohomish.org.
The Centennial Trail will be featured in my upcoming Urban Trails Everett book slated for release in 2018. Meanwhile, for nearby year-round hikes north of Everett, check out my newly released Urban Trails Bellingham (Mountaineers Books).
Get your copy today!