Peshastin Pinnacles — Hike though a magical kingdom of rocky spires

037

The impressive rock formations offer great views of the Wenatchee River Valley.

Quick Facts:

Location: Wenatchee River Valley near Leavenworth

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 1.5 miles

Elevation gain: 400 feet

Green Trails Maps: Leavenworth- No. 178

Contact: Peshastin Pinnacles State Park

Notes: Discover Pass required; dogs must be leashed.

Access: From Leavenworth follow US 2 east for 9 miles turning left onto North Dryden Road. Reach trailhead at Peshastin Pinnacles State Park in 0.5 mile.

Good to Know:  bird-watching, spring wildflowers, park closed November 1 through March 15.

 

026

Pass through the gate to a magical sandstone kingdom.

A longtime favorite haunt among the carabiner crowd, hikers will find the Peshastin Pinnacles much to their liking, too. Several trails weave through these 200-foot high sandstone spires perched on a sun-kissed hillside above the fruited Wenatchee River Valley. When you’re not fixated on the striking outcrops and sculptured slabs surrounding you, peer out over orchards to a backdrop of lofty ridges and snow-capped peaks. In spring the pinnacles are painted with a plethora of pretty blossoms. And there’s always a nice array of avian residents to pique your interest as well.

029

Shark fin rocks dot the hillside.

This little 34.5 acre park packs quite a varied landscape within its tight boundaries. Hike through a gate entering this magical kingdom of rocky spires resembling rows of shark teeth protruding from a golden hillside. From the main access, trails diverge left and right. It really doesn’t matter which direction you choose to explore this sculpted landscape. Walking along the park’s periphery makes for a nice 1.5 mile hike with a 400 foot gain of elevation.

Hike clockwise entering a big dry draw. While the surroundings are dull brown most of the year; from March through May, desert butter cups, avalanche lilies and arrowleaf balsamroot add brilliant touches of gold to these slopes. Staying on the main trail, head up a series of tight switchbacks beside the Grand Central Tower; one of the more prominent of the Pinnacles. Bending east the way then side slopes beneath Sunset Slab. Then head up to a small ridge crest where some lonely pines eke out a living.

Pass by the Dinosaur Tower and hang around a bit to observe falcons and hawks riding thermals above the serrated surroundings. Then hike to the Martian Slab for an out-of-this world view of the countryside! The way then steeply switchbacks downward back to the trailhead gate.

 

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

 For detailed information on this and other hikes near Wenatchee and Leavenworth, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades guidebook.

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Peshastin Pinnacles visit nwtripfinder.com

 NWTFmasthead_layers15

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.

 

 

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.

Coming Soon!

Urban Trails: Everett

Your guide to hiking and running trails throughout Western Snohomish County, Camano Island, and Whidbey Island

Pre-order your copy Now!


Jay Lake — Solitude and camping at Wallace Falls State Park

Quick Facts:

Location: Skykomish River Valley, US 2

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 11.5 miles

Elevation gain: 1,575 feet

Green Trails Map: 

Contact: Wallace Falls State Park 

Notes: Discover Pass required; Dogs must be leashed; Camping requires a permit-attain from park prior to trip.

Access: From Everett, follow US 2 for 28 miles east to Gold Bar. Turn left onto 1st Street and proceed for .4 mile. Then turn right onto May Creek Road and continue for 1.5 miles to Wallace Falls State Park and trailhead.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, kid-friendly, snow free winter hiking; waterfalls; backpacking opportunities

 

045

Peaceful Jay Lake on a quiet spring day.

Wallace Falls is one of Washington’s busiest and most popular state parks. You’d be hard pressed to find solitude there even on a rainy day in winter. Yet, while thousands of hikers each month take to trails to the park’s spectacular series of thundering waterfalls, you can still find solitude here. But, you’ll have leave the waterfalls and work for it!

There are miles of trails and old woods roads within this state park and adjacent DNR-property. And several of these routes are lightly traveled. One of the loneliest spots in the park is Jay Lake, reached by a long but enjoyable hike. To reach it, follow hordes of happy hikers to the Woody Trail. Then continue to the Railroad Cut-off Trail taking this short but steep path 0.1 mile to an old logging railroad grade now a wide trail. Turn right and after a third of a mile reach the Greg Ball Trail.

A former board member and director of the Washington Trails Association (WTA), Ball launched WTA’s volunteer trail maintenance program back in 1993. It has since grown into the largest state-based program of its kind. In 2004 at the age of 60, Ball passed away after battling cancer. He had designed this trail to Wallace Lake.

Paralleling the North Fork of the Wallace River, this trail gracefully meanders through mature second growth. After a half mile the way steepens and the forest grows darker. But an agreeable grade and forest soon returns. At about 3.0 miles from the trailhead the river can be seen cascading through a narrow chasm. About a half mile farther the trail terminates at a DNR Road. Turn right on the road for a short 0.1 mile to a junction with an old road taking off left. Then follow this near level forested way for .5 mile to the southern tip of large and tranquil Wallace Lake.

083

One of two potentially tricky creek crossings.

Continue left .7 mile on an old road along the lake’s forested shoreline to where the North Fork Wallace River (here more of a creek) flows into the lake at inviting Pebble Beach. Now cross the North Fork (good luck keeping your boots dry) and continue on a lonely stretch of trail to Jay Lake. Pass some moisture loving Sitka Spruce, a rarity this far inland from the coast—then hop across another creek.

One more boot soaking creek crossing must be negotiated before you arrive at the quiet and more than likely deserted Jay Lake. Find a backcountry camping area (inquire within the park for a camping permit) and picnic table set amidst a grove of hemlocks. The lake’s shoreline is brushy making it difficult to reach its waters. But none-the-less, the location is soothing and feels quite remote. Pretty amazing too when you consider that while you listen to quiet breezes and thrush and wren song here at Jay Lake, hundreds of hikers are wearing down the tread near the waterfalls!

For information on lodging and other attractions near Jay Lake visit  www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

For more information on hiking Wallace Falls State Park and other snow-free hiking destinations throughout Western Washington, consult my Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck.Winter Hikes Card DeckGet your copy today!

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!

Index Town Wall –Steep and stunning hike above the Forks of the Sky

DSC03798

Stunning view of Index and the rugged peaks of the Wild Sky Wilderness

Quick Facts:

Location: Skykomish River Valley near Index

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 2.6 miles

Elevation gain: 1,300 feet

Green Trails Maps: Alpine Lakes Stevens Pass Map 176S

Contact: Washington State Parks 

Notes: Discover Pass required; Dogs must be leashed

Access: From Everett follow US 2 east for 36 miles. Turn left onto North Fork Road (Index-Galena Road) and continue for 1.0 mile. Turn left onto 5th street. Cross river into Index and proceed to second stop sign turning left onto Index Ave. Follow for  .3 mile (road bends south to become 2nd Street) to stop sign. Turn right onto Ave A and follow .6 mile (road becomes Reiter Road) to parking area on right.

Good to Know:  snow-free winter hike, exceptional view; steep drop-off -exercise caution especially with children and dogs, practice Leave No Trace Principles 

 

DSC03789

The Index Town Wall is imposing from below.The only landmark more stunning and impressive rising above the little town of Index than Mount Index, is the Index Town Wall. Forming a 1,200-foot backdrop of sheer granite cliffs, the Index Town Wall is imposing and awe inspiring. Renown among climbers for its 50-plus routes and some of the best vertical in the Northwest, a not-so-well known hiking trail also leads to its top.

The only landmark more stunning and impressive rising above the little town of Index than Mount Index, is the Index Town Wall. Forming a 1,200-foot backdrop of sheer granite cliffs, the Index Town Wall is imposing and awe inspiring. Renown among climbers for its 50-plus routes and some of the best vertical in the Northwest, a not-so-well known hiking trail also leads to its top.

Washington State Parks has acquired much of the wall guaranteeing public access. Part of the Forks of the Sky State Park, this fairly new park consists of more than 1,400 acres at the confluence of the Skykomish River and its North Fork. Paddlers, picnickers, and anglers have much to be thankful too with this park. While it is a separate park unit, it is currently being administered by Wallace Falls State Park.

From the parking area, walk up a service road and immediately cross (use caution) a set of railroad tracks. Straight ahead a series of climber paths diverge through a new addition of the park, thanks to the Bullitt Foundation. Continue right on the service road (staying off the tracks as it is an active line) listening to climbers clambering above. About a .25 mile from the parking area you’ll come to a picnic table in front of a big steel door in the cliff face. Behind this door is a 200 foot bore created to test a machine used for tunneling under the English Channel.

Locate the trail to the top of the Index Wall to the right of the picnic table at forest edge. While unmarked—it’s obvious. Now begin a steep grunt, ascending nearly 1,300 feet in just over one mile. The trail is fairly well built though, marching up steep slopes; and ducking under, around and over overhanging ledges. The entire way is forested and not exposed. Climbing paths diverge from the main path and you’ll want to avoid these lest ending up in a spot you’d rather not be. Just keep following well placed arrowed signs leading the way.

DSC03792

The “mystery” door!

After 1.2 miles you’ll reach an old rocky skid road that doubles as a creek bed. Stay to the right of a cable fence and follow this rocky route .1 mile to the top of the wall. Exercise extreme caution approaching the edge of the cliff. Then clutch your heart and catch your breath taking in an absolutely amazing view. Gaze directly below at the town of Index perched along the North Fork of the Skykomish River against a dramatic cloud piercing backdrop of Wild Sky Wilderness Peaks; Gunn, Merchant and Baring. Stay for awhile fully mesmerized—you earned this view!

 For information on lodging and other attractions near the Index Town Wall, visit www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

For detailed information on other hikes nearby and along US 2 from Everett to Wenatchee, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades guidebook.

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

 

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