Langus Waterfront Trail─A slough of surprises await just minutes from downtown Everett

Enjoy continuous river and slough views on this trail.

Enjoy continuous river and slough views on this trail.

Quick Facts

Location: City of Everett

Land Agency: Everett Parks and Recreation Department

Roundtrip: 4.0 miles

Elevation Gain: None

Access: From Everett, take Exit 195 off of I-5 turning left onto East Grand Ave. In 0.5 mile bear right onto East Marine View Drive and follow for 1.0 mile to SR 529. Continue north on SR 529 crossing the Snohomish River onto Smith Island. After a half mile turn right onto 35th Ave NE and proceed south for a half mile turning left onto Smith Island Road. Follow Smith Island Road south for 1.5 miles to Langus Riverfront Park.

Notes: Dogs must be on leash.

Contact: City of Everett Parks and Recreation Department

Good to Know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike, exceptional birdwatching, wheelchair and jogging stroller friendly

A delightful paved path along the Snohomish River in the heart of its delta, the Langus Waterfront Trail on Smith Island can be enjoyed by hikers and runners of all walks of life including those in wheelchairs. Starting from the city of Everett’s Langus Riverfront Park head south across manicured lawns beside the river. Here near the river’s mouth, it channels into an elaborate delta of sloughs and ecologically important wetlands. Smith Island sits right in the middle of this estuarine complex, an area where salt and fresh waters mix.

While parts of the delta succumbed to past industrial and agricultural uses, much of it has recently been restored to a more natural environment. Managed cooperatively by the Everett Parks Department, Snohomish County Parks Department, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Snohomish River Delta now provides excellent wildlife watching opportunities as well as excellent hiking and paddling; and all just mere minutes from downtown Everett. This is one of the best spots in the county for observing birds.

Follow the trail upriver and when skies are clear take in splendid views south of Mount Rainier rising above the floodplain. After passing a water treatment plant the trail traverses wilder surroundings. Reaching the southern tip of the island the trail turns northward following along Union Slough. Resembling a southern bottomland, large Sitka spruces growing here remind you that you’re still in the Northwest. So too on sunny days when yu can see Mount Rainier hovering in the distance. Look for eagles, herons, ducks, and cormorants among the reeds, snags, pools, and currents.

In 2.0 miles the paved trail comes to the old Jackknife Bridge to Spencer Island. You can turn around and head back; or head back to your vehicle via dirt 4th Street for a shortcut; or continue hiking on Spencer Island’s trails. In any case many returns are warranted here as each season brings changes and surprises to the river and its delta.

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Langus Waterfront Trail visit www.snohomish.org.

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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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Japanese Gulch — Historic Ravine laced with trails

 

Quick Facts:

Location: Mukilteo

Land Agency: Mukilteo Recreation Department

Roundtrip: More than 7 miles of trails

Elevation Gain: up to 500 feet

Contact: Mukilteo Recreation Department

Notes: Trail system is currently rough in places and unsigned.

Access: From Everett, head west on Mukilteo Blvd (which becomes 5th Street in Mukilteo) for to parking and trailhead on your left. Alternative trailhead and parking at the Mukilteo Community Garden.

Good to Know: kid-friendly, snow-free winter hike, dog-friendly, historical

 

Straddling the Everett-Mukilteo city line and tucked between Boeing Paine Field and Possession Sound is a lush greenbelt harboring miles of trails and a fascinating history. Once threatened with development, a concerned citizens group helped convince the city of Mukilteo to purchase a large section of Japanese Gulch for a park.

The gulch is laced with trails (many user-built and unofficial) and nearly all unsigned. Hiking here can be confusing. The city recently developed a master plan for the park and hopefully the upgraded trail system will include good signage. A good introduction to this park is the Japanese Gulch Loop Trail which begins next to the dog park. It traverses a steep slope above a tumbling creek passing a small old dam and spillway—remains of a lumber mill operation. This deep ravine once housed the Crown Lumber Company which employed a large population of Mukilteo residents of Japanese descent (which were heavily discriminated against in other communities, but found a home and employment here).

Beyond the dam, with the help of some steps, the trail steeply climb to the rim of the gulch. The way then bends north allowing for some views through the trees of the sound below. Then the way heads south passing several trails leading left back into the gulch. Continue straight and you’ll eventually return to the gulch and an old road. Then hike downhill on the old road following a cascading creek and returning to the trailhead for a loop of more than three miles.

The railroad tracks in the gulch are private property as well as the slopes east of the tracks. While Japanese Gulch is a favorite area for local hikers and runners, first time visitors will probably have a hard time finding their way around—so befriend a regular park visitor to help you negotiate this fascinating hidden greenbelt!

For information on lodging and other attractions near Jay Lake visit  www.snohomish.org

For detailed information on many other urban trails, pick up a copy of my Urban Trails Olympia, Urban Trails Kitsap, or Urban Trails Bellingham (Mountaineers books). Urban Trails Seattle and Urban Trails Everett will be released later this year. Pick up a copy of one or more of these guides today!

Lake Cassidy─ADA Trail to a pretty lake along the Centennial Trail

A boardwalk provides access for hikers of all abilities to Lake Cassidy.

A boardwalk provides access for hikers
of all abilities to Lake Cassidy.

Quick Facts:

Location: Marysville

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Access: From Marysville (Exit 199 I-5) follow SR 528 for 3.0 miles east to SR 9. Head north on SR 9 for 1.0 mile to junction with 84th Street NE. Turn right (east) and continue for just shy of a 0.5 mile to Getchell Trailhead.

Contact: Snohomish County Parks

 

 

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly, ADA-accessible, Snow-free Winter hike

Located just a few miles east of bustling Marysville is 120-plus acre Lake Cassidy, a semi-wild waterway on the suburban fringe. Surrounded by wetlands and hardwood forest, nearly 300 acres along the lake’s northern shores and around nearby Lake Martha are protected as Washington State Fish and Wildlife lands. The lake is accessible by an ADA trail too allowing disabled and physically challenged hikers an opportunity to cast a line in this trout-stocked lake. The ADA trail connects to the paved Centennial Trail allowing for a longer approach and nice family friendly hike.

Disabled hikers can access Lake Cassidy from a trailhead off of 105th Ave NE a quarter mile south of the lake. Permits are required for this trailhead and can be obtained by applying to the Snohomish County Parks Department. For the hike described here, begin at the Getchell Trailhead off of 84th Street NE. Beginning in the defunct railroad community of Getchell, head south on the Centennial Trail through one of the more rural and scenic sections of this popular trail. This former railroad line threads woodlots and remnant farmlands on the edge of suburbia between the city of Snohomish and the Skagit County border. This section to Lake Cassidy is among the wildest along the 29 mile trail. Paved and with little elevation change, this hike is an easy journey for all outdoors lovers including those in wheelchairs.

Within a half mile the trail brushes up against the nearly 300-acre Lake Martha and Lake Cassidy state wildlife lands. This tract protects little Lake Martha with its sphagnum bog as well as much of the eastern shoreline of 123-acre Lake Cassidy, harboring a wide variety of plants and animals including bears, ospreys, eagles, pileated woodpeckers, and a couple of threatened sedges.

After about 1.25 miles of pleasant wandering, reach the Lake Cassidy Interpretive Center, composing of an educational kiosk, picnic area and a sturdy boardwalk projecting into the reed and cattail ringed lake. The lake is large but fairly shallow. A handful of structures occupy the far shore, but much of this body of water remains in an undeveloped state. Sit for awhile and scan the reeds for birds. If you feel like stretching your legs out a little more, continue walking south on the Centennial Trail towards Lake Stevens.

 

For information on lodging and other attractions near Lake Cassidy visit www.snohomish.org.

For infomation on other great snow-free hikes and walks nearby, consult my Urban Trails Bellingham book!

 

Meadowdale Beach—Reach the Beach through an Emerald Gulch

Follow Lunds Creek through a deep ravine to a beautiful beach

Follow Lunds Creek through a deep ravine to a beautiful beach

Quick Facts:

Location: Lynnwood

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 425 feet

Contact: Snohomish County Parks

Special Notes: Dogs must be leashed; park open 7 am to dusk: do not park on road

Access: From Everett, head 10 miles south on I-5 to exit 183. Follow 164th Street SW west for 1.5 miles bearing left onto 44th Ave W to a traffic light. Turn right onto 168th Street SW and continue west passing SR 99. After .5 mile turn right onto 52nd Ave W. In another half mile turn left onto 160th Street SW. In .25 mile turn right on 56th Ave W. In another .25 mile turn left onto 156th Street SW following to park entrance.

Good to know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike, beach walking, 

 

Hike through a deep green ravine cradling a salmon-spawning stream to a quiet Puget Sound beach granting sweeping views of Whidbey Island and the Olympic Mountains. Meadowdale Beach Park’s Lunds Gulch forms a green swath in heavily suburbanized south Snohomish County. The trail begins in a small grassy opening on a forested bluff. It immediately enters a mature forest of Douglas-fir and wastes no time dropping more than 400-feet into the emerald ravine. Sturdy steps constructed by the Washington Trails Association help you negotiate the descent.

Big boughs of ferns line the way. So do hefty cedar and hemlock stumps, testaments to the giants that once flourished here before pioneering loggers “discovered” them. Not all of the big trees here were harvested though; a few giant firs, cottonwoods, and Sitka spruce still stand tall within the lush gulch. John Lund first homesteaded this rugged tract back in 1878. It is nicely reverting back to its wilder days. The trail crosses some side creeks eventually coming alongside the small creek named after Lund. The waterway makes a short journey to the sound. But it’s an important run supporting spawning salmon. Come in the fall to see them.

In one mile the trail comes to a junction. The path left leads to the ranger’s residence and to picnic tables scattered about on a manicured lawn. You’ll find a restroom here, too. Much of this area once sported a country club complete with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and bath houses. In 1968 the county parks department acquired this property and began transforming it into a topnotch natural and recreational gem. Continue hiking straight along the creek and through forest eventually coming to a railroad underpass. Now make tracks under the tracks to reach the beach. When the tide is low you can roam for some distance on extensive flats. Rest on a driftwood log, comb the shore, and enjoy a splendid view of Whidbey Island and the Olympic Mountains. Sunsets are supreme here, but don’t forget to allot yourself some daylight for the return to your vehicle.

 

For information on lodging and other attractions near Meadowdale Beach visit www.snohomish.org

For detailed information on lots of hikes you can do year round in the Puget Sound Area, consult one of my Urban Trails guidebooks. Urban Trails Everett will be released later this year. Meanwhile pick up a copy of Urban Trails Bellingham and hit the trail!Get your copy today!