Robe Canyon─Follow a silenced railroad into a thundering chasm

Robe Canyon is a historically and scenically fascinating place to hike

Robe Canyon is a historically and scenically fascinating place to hike

Quick Facts:

Location: Mountain Loop Highway near Granite Falls

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 2.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Green trails Map: Mountain Loop Highway 111SX

Access: From Granite Falls follow the Mountain Loop Highway east for 7.0 miles to trailhead located on your right, directly across from Forest Road 41. Park on road shoulder.

Note: Dogs must be leashed. Trail along the river is not recommended for young children.

Contact: Snohomish County Parks and Recreation Department

Good to know: historic, snow-free winter hike, dog-friendly

Constructed almost entirely by the Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, this trail drops 300 feet off of the bluff via a series of switchbacks delivering you to a lush river bottom complete with big cedars, cottonwoods, Sitka spruce, and moss-draped maples. Pass by an old town site that once sported a couple of mills, freight sheds, and a lime kiln. You’ll have a hard time 048imagining now that all of this once stood here among all of this greenery.

Now come up along the river. In periods of heavy rainfall it bellows and roars. Signs of its strength lie all around you, from undercut banks to toppled trees to silted flats. The trail continues along the wild waterway where occasional glimpses may be had of surrounding peaks. But the real interest lies just ahead where the river enters Robe Canyon.

Here follow the careening river on the old rail grade blasted into ledges above the 034frothing water. Admire the craftsmanship of the masonry that helped make it possible for a transportation line to be built through such a forbidding place. At 1.2 miles, a rock slide prohibits further exploration. Two intact railroad tunnels lie just ahead and hopefully the County Parks Department will someday make them accessible by reconstructing this damaged section of trail. It is extremely dangerous to proceed farther. So for now, sit and linger here admiring the crashing river and listening to the voices of the past echoing off of the canyon walls.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Robe Canyon visit


For more information on this hike and other snow-free hiking destinations in Western Washington, pick up a copy of my Winter Hikes of Western Washington deck.Winter Hikes Card Deck

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