Heybrook Ridge–New Trail to stunning views of Mount Index

Quick Facts:

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!

Guillemot Cove─Quiet nature retreat on Hood Canal

Oyster shells litter the beach at Guillemot Cove.

Oyster shells litter the beach at Guillemot Cove.

Quick Facts:

Location: Kitsap Peninsula

Land Agency: Kitsap County Parks

Roundtrip: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 350 feet

Contact: Kitsap County Parks

Notes: Dogs prohibited.

Access: From Bremerton, follow SR 3 North to Newberry Hill Road Exit. Then head west for 3.0 miles turning right onto Seabeck Highway. Continue for 5.0 miles to Seabeck turning right onto Miami Beach Road just south of town. In one mile bear left onto Stavis Bay Road and follow for 4.5 miles to trailhead on left; parking on opposite side of road.

Good to know: Kid-friendly, bird-watching, snow-free winter hike

Perhaps the prettiest point on the Kitsap Peninsula and the crown jewel of the Kitsap County Parks system, Guillemot Cove will delight hikers of all ages and in any season. Guillemot Cove Nature Preserve protects almost 200 acres of stunning beach and stately forest on Hood Canal. A former private estate, Guillemot Cove is now managed as a nature preserve open to passive recreation.

There are four miles of trails within the preserve. The out-and-back to the old beach house makes for a good introduction. Begin by hiking downhill on the Sawmill Trail beneath a canopy of mature timber and rhodies (in bloom come May). Ignore side trails veering left. After passing through a beautiful flat of alders garnished with bouquets of ferns the trail turns east. Now named the Margaret Trail, it drops sharply into a cool ravine shaded by cedar, hemlock and the occasional yew.

After rounding a switchback, emerge in the heart of the old estate at 1.0 mile. Here at a kiosk several trails branch off. For the cove, cross Boyce Creek following the Beach House Trail. After a .25 mile reach the old beach house and the beach littered with oyster shells! The snow-capped Brothers tower directly across this stretch of Hood Canal. Look for eagles, shorebirds, and of course guillemots; a penguin-like seabird.

Return or consider exploring some of the preserve’s other trails, including one that leads to the old stump house; a giant cedar stump that was lived in during the great depression.

For more detailed information on this hike and 35 other great hiking destinations on the Kitsap Peninsula, Key Peninsula, and Bainbridge Island, pick up a copy of my best-selling Urban Trails Kitsap (Mountaineers Books).

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River View Quarry Trail─Trail along the Snohomish River is a cut above

The trail meanders around the grassy slopes of a reclaimed quarry.

The trail meanders around the grassy slopes of a reclaimed quarry.

Quick Facts:

Location: Lord Hill Regional Park

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 2.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 275 feet

Access: From Monroe, exit SR 522 onto Main Street heading west and immediately coming to a roundabout. Bear right onto Tester Road and proceed 3.0 miles to a T-intersection just after passing under SR 522. Turn left and proceed to South Parking Area. If gated, park at Lower South Parking Area.

Notes: Dogs must be leashed.

Contact: Snohomish County Parks

Good to know: dog-friendly, kid-friendly, snow-free winter hiking

Snohomish County’s largest county park, nearly 1500-acre Lord Hill Regional Park acts as a giant green wedge between bustling Monroe and the city of Snohomish. A land of heavily forested slopes, lush ravines, basaltic outcroppings, wetland ponds, and a wild undeveloped stretch of the Snohomish River; Lord Hill is a haven not only for wildlife, but for 100,000s of folks living nearby. But despite its close proximity to the state’s main urban corridor, Lord Hill rarely gets crowded. And with more than 30 miles of trails (many unofficial and in the process of being closed or rehabilitated) and several more miles of old woods roads, this property provides countless hiking options.

Most visitors begin their park outings from the northern trailhead, reached off of 127th SE Ave from Snohomish. The River View Quarry Trail is accessed from the park’s southern quieter trailhead. This area of the park once housed a beautiful old barn and a large quarry operation. The barn (suspiciously) went up in flames a few years ago and much of the quarry has been reclaimed. But, a handful of relics from the area’s human history can still be found in this area of the park.

From the upper parking lot head head to the Upper Loop. You’ll be returning on the dirt road which you entered the park. Head. It’s possible to explore the river shore across meadows and an old tree farm on a lower trail; but the area is prone to flooding, so best to check it out during the drier months.

Your route passes by some mature cedars and firs eventually coming to the old quarry. Pass beneath cut ledges now quickly being reclaimed by greenery before coming to an old rusting steam shovel and small shack. The way then turns northward climbing steeply up a lush ravine. There are good views south over the river and rolling countryside. Soon come to a small wetland created by an old earthen dam since breached. Bear right and come to a junction.

You can head right for a shorter return, or bear left the preferred route climbing along the edge of a grassy depression—a reclaimed quarry pit. Reach a junction (the park’s unmarked trails can make navigation frustrating or fun) at another wetland, this one quite large and usually hopping with animal activity. The trail left climbs to the River Trail. You want to go right skirting the open depression looking for deer and enjoying good views to the south.

Eventually you’ll reach the Pipeline Trail, which bisects the park following a gas line. Head right passing the junction with the shorter option; then continue left steeply dropping back to your starting point. Feel free to extend your journey on the numerous radiating side trails you passed. A map can be found at the park’s website.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Lord Hill, visit www.snohomish.org.

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Old Sauk River Trail– Stroll along a Wild and Scenic River

DSC08828

The trail provides plenty of opportunities to view the Sauk River.

Quick Facts:

Location: Mountain Loop Highway near Darrington,

Land Agency: Mount Baker -Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 6.0 miles

Elevation gain: 150 feet

Green Trails Maps: Mountain Loop Highway 111SX

Contact: Darrington Ranger District: Mount Baker -Snoqualmie National Forest 

Notes: Northwest Forest or Interagency Pass required

Access: Take Exit 208 off of I-5 following SR 530 east 32.0 miles east to Darrington. At stop sign, turn right onto the Mountain Loop Highway and proceed for 3.6 miles to trailhead.

Good to Know:  snow-free winter hike, dog-friendly, kid-friendly, bird-watching; ADA-accessible section

 

A major tributary to the Skagit River, the federally-protected Wild and Scenic Sauk River supports a wide array of wildlife and provides critical habitat for Puget Sound salmon. And like the Skagit, this important river also provides winter habitat for scores of bald eagles. The Old Sauk River Trail hugs the riverbank of this ecologically important and strikingly beautiful waterway for three nearly flat miles. And being at a low elevation, this trail is often snow-free and hikeable throughout the year. Spring time is especially enjoyable, with snow melt contributing to a roaring river and woodland flowers adding dabs of color to the emerald surroundings.

DSC08801

A hiker crosses on of the many sloughs along the way.

The trail begins in a thick stand of mature forest. Logged in the 1930s, many old-growth Douglas-fir trees still boldly stand here. After skirting alongside a slough, reach the Sauk. Behold its beauty and ever changing mood. In the wet fall and winter months, the river’s volume and current increases substantially occasionally jumping its bed to take away a piece of the trail. Dedicated volunteers have kept this trail in good shape, restoring and rerouting the tread when necessary.

DSC08816

The forest is impressive along this trail too.

Cross a bridge over a small creek and then hike alongside the churning Sauk River. Walk this way in springtime and be treated to brilliant displays of wildflowers. Thousands of trillium, dwarf dogwood, wood violet, twin flower, and star flower carpet the forest floor. Look for birds too—thrushes, wrens, jays, eagles and dippers.

At 1.9 miles reach a junction with the Old Sauk Interpretive Loop accessible trail. This delightful 1.3 mile loop is accessed from the Mountain Loop Highway 2.0 miles south of the trailhead you started from.  It’s perfect not only for wheelchairs but for young hikers and folks just looking for a shorter hiking option, too.

The Old Sauk River Trail continues south to another junction with the Interpretive Loop Trail. Veer left here and hike along another slough. Then cross a channel and traverse a grove of big trees. Cross another channel and come to a big riverside rock. The trail then leaves the raucous river to follow Murphy Creek through a tunnel of moss-draped maples and under a canopy of towering cottonwoods. At 3.0 miles reach the trail’s southern terminus on the Mountain Loop Highway. Now turn around and start hiking back to your vehicle enjoying this trail downriver.

 

For information on lodging and other attractions near The Old Sauk River Trail visit www.snohomish.org

For detailed information on this and other hikes along the Mountain Loop Highway, consult my best-selling  Day Hiking North Cascades guidebook.

For a great cup of coffee-good conversation-a hiking guidebook and a Green Trails Map, be sure to stop in at the Mountain Loop Books and Coffee shop in Darrington

All content and images on this site are copywritten material and MAY NOT be used without the written permission from Craig Romano, owner of Hike of the Week.

 

Ozette Triangle–Classic Olympic Coast Hike packed with surprises

The Wedding Rocks add mystique to the Ozette Triangle.

The Wedding Rocks add mystique to the Ozette Triangle.

Quick Facts:

Location: Olympic Coast

Land Agency: Olympic National Park

Roundtrip: 9.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Notes: National Park entry fee; dogs prohibited; coastal section can be difficult during high tides.

Green Trails Map: Olympic Coast 99S

Contact: Olympic National Park

Access: From Port Angeles, follow US 101 west for 5 miles to SR 112. Continue on SR 112 for 46 miles to Seiku. Travel west on SR 112 for 2.5 miles beyond Seiku and turn left onto the Hoko-Ozette Road. Follow this paved road for 21 miles to trailhead at Ozette Ranger Station.

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, snow-free winter hike, backpacking opportunities (permit required), exceptional wildlife viewing, historic, Practice Leave No Trace Principles, One of  the 100 Classic Hikes of Washington

Sea stacks, sea otters, sea lions, and ocean scenery for as far as you can see, the 9.4 mile Ozette Triangle is one of the finest hikes on the Olympic Coast. An easily accessible loop hike, it’s the perfect introduction to America’s wildest coastline south of Alaska.

From Lake Ozette, one of the largest natural bodies of water in Washington, the loop begins its 3.3 mile journey to the sea. Cross the lazy and brackish Ozette River on an arched bridge soon coming to a junction. Veer right and via good trail and cedar-planked boardwalks, traverse lush maritime forests drenched in sea mist. Towering ferns line the elevated path. Pass through Ahlstrom’s Prairie, an early homestead site, since reclaimed by the dense greenery that thrives in this water-logged climate.

Raucous gulls and the sound of crashing surf announce that the ocean is near. Now gently descend to the wild beaches of Cape Alava. Turn south and follow the shoreline for 3.1 adventurous miles. Look out to off-shore islands. Gaze the ocean waters for seals, whales, and scores of pelagic birds. Look in tidal pools for semi-submerged starfish tenaciously clinging to barnacle-encrusted walls. Look for oystercatchers cruising down the aisles of this open fish market. Look up in the towering trees hugging the shoreline for perched eagles.

Search for Makah petroglyphs etched into the Wedding Rocks, a cluster of shore hugging boulders about half way down the coast. Respect these historic and sacred artifacts; they predate European settlement in the Northwest. If the tide is low continue along the surf. If it is high use the steep but short trails (signed) that bound over the rough headlands. A little more than 3.0 miles from Cape Alava, you’ll arrive at Sand Point. Over two glorious miles of some of the finest sandy beaches in all of Washington extend from this point. Explore at will or return to Lake Ozette via another 3.0 mile long boardwalk trail. It’s all through expansive cedar bogs and under a dense canopy of majestic Sitka spruce. As the sound of the crashing surf slowly fades in the distance, the Ozette Triangle will long continue to chime in your mind.

The Ozette Triangle is one of 136 featured hikes in my Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 2nd Edition guidebook. Find more details on this hike and detailed and accurate descriptions to many others in this best-selling, most-trusted and comprehensive guide to hiking the Olympic Peninsula. Get your copy today!