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!

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