Photos from recent trips I've led for Everett Parks and Recreation.  Photo captions are under each picture.  Navigate through the photos by clicking the arrows on the sides of the photo.  Clicking on photo will expand the size.  Enjoy! 

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Snowshoe 3/31  Gold Creek Trail  

We've done countless trips to Gold Creek Valley over the years, but never had we taken a tour as deeply into the valley as we did on this trip. Whereas most Gold Creek snowshoers stay around the pond area, maybe doing up to a 3 mile round trip, this group did an 8 mile round trip, exploring quite far upstream into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. The payoff on this mostly sunny day was some beautiful creekside scenery against the backdrop of towering peaks, and near-complete solitude.

Hike 3/30  Deception Pass Tripleheader  

This tripleheader consisted of hikes in three areas near Deception Pass. We started with a 1.5 mile route to the Canoe Pass vista from Bowman Bay, then did the short but steep trail up to Goose Rock (where we enjoyed a lengthy lazy lunch in the sunshine). Our third and final hike was at Sharpe Park, a few miles north of the pass. The day featured great seaside vistas, some wonderful forests, a few blooming wildflowers, and nice relaxing breaks at some dazzling overlooks. In particular, the madrona trees at Sharpe Park were striking.

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Walk 3/28  Camano Island & Cama Beach State Parks  

This pair of state parks, only a mile or so apart on Camano's western shore, contain plenty of nice trails on both the upland bluffs and down along the beaches. We sampled around 3 miles of paths on this morning walk, enjoying the sunny weather and mild temperatures

Hike 3/24  Heybrook Ridge County Park  

This was a day for new discoveries. The new trail and county park just outside Index has only been open a couple of years, so for the nine hikers who joined me, it was to be a first time visit. The trail is fairly short, only 1.66 miles, but gives a nice workout as you climb 800 feet to a vista point. Clouds and light rain meant that the view was limited, but thanks to my PeakFinder app, you can imagine the views in the first couple photos. We completed the Heybrook hike with time to spare, so we explored another new discovery, Osprey Park in Sultan. This little-known spot at the edge of town has some nice easy forest trails leading to the Sultan River, and gave an extra mile or so of rain-free walking.

Snowshoe 3/23  Mount Rainier - Rampart Ridge  

Our unusually warm late winter and early spring weather had the quite predictable effect of melting a lot of snow in the mountains this week, and it was certainly evident on this tour near Mount Rainier. Starting at Longmire, elevation 2800 feet, there was barely enough snow to cover the trail as we headed steadily upward on a section of the Wonderland Trail. It gradually got better as we rose to over 4000 feet on the forested trail. We didn't quite break out of the trees for any mountain views (clouds were thickening anyway), and the snow surface was largely littered with tree debris, but the snowshoeing was still nice, and everyone got a good workout in our 5 miles of travel. A couple quick stops at scenic points up the road from Longmire capped off the day.

Hike 3/22  Grand Ridge Park  

This was the final day of a record-breaking spell of summer-like March weather, and the hiking was delightful along the Grand Ridge Park trails near Issaquah. We walked a one-way route of around six miles from south to north across the park, rising to around 1100 feet in elevation at our highest point. The well-maintained trail wound smoothly through the beautiful forest, seldom very steep or challenging at all. Lots of local mountain bikers love these trails, so we got to have encounters with dozens of cheerful cyclists.

Walk 3/19  Lake Padden Loop  

We traveled to Bellingham on a beautiful late-winter morning to walk around this lovely lake. A wide, packed gravel path encircles the lake and is a nice mix of deep forest and sun-splashed lakeshore. It was a peaceful stroll of about 3 miles, and a great bit of exercise.

Snowshoe 3/17  Mount McCausland  

The beautiful spring-like weather made for a perfect day to snowshoe to the high country above Stevens Pass on Sunday. Mount McCausland is a 5,747-foot summit right above Lake Valhalla, reached from the Smith Brook Valley.  The group of 7 strong snowshoers all made the 2,700 foot climb up from Highway 2, first following Smith Brook Road for about 3 miles, then doing an off-trail route up some occasionally steep terrain to the top. Views were phenomenal, from Baker in the north to Rainier in the south, plus Mt. Stuart, Sloan Peak, Glacier Peak, and countless more. Congratulations to all my summiters.

Hike 3/16  Ebey's Landing  

It was a glorious day on Whidbey Island, perfect for a casual hike at the popular Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve. Starting from a small trailhead on the shore of Admiralty Inlet, we climbed up the 250-foot-high bluff to the fine views that included the Olympic Mountains, Port Townsend, Mount Baker, and many of the Cascade front peaks. Raptors soared overhead, shore birds cavorted below, and even a few little wildflowers were starting to bloom. After a mile and a half across the bluff top, we descended to the beach and walked along the shore back to the trailhead, totaling about 3 miles or so. A stop in Coupeville capped off this fun and relaxing day.

Snowshoe 3/13  Steppin' Stoker Trail  

It's almost always a nice peaceful day when we visit the snowshoe trails here at the Stevens Pass Nordic Center during the week. The Center isn't officially open, so there's no trail fees, and no crowds of skiers or snowshoers. The marked trails are (usually) easy to follow, and with a few inches of fresh snow and a base of 5-7 feet, conditions were near-perfect. We made a loop of sorts by following portions of the Steppin' Stoker, Clickety Clack, and Side Track trails. Our four-hour outing covered around 3.5 miles.

Check out the video of the weird waters of the Stillaguamish. Be sure to enlarge to full screen.

Hike 3/12  Lime Kiln Trail  

Even though this is a low elevation trail just a couple miles out of Granite Falls, the snow returned to whiten the forest for our hike.  It was less than an inch of fairly wet snow, and as it melted, we had a slushy sloppy mess on parts of the trail, but it was still beautiful out there. We hiked the full 3.5 miles of trail to the river viewpoint at the end, and passed the remains of the historic lime kiln along the way. The river was surprising "thick" with mud and clay that had washed down from upstream, and it provided an unusual look to the water when we got close up. It looked so cloudy, almost like an old lava lamp (see video below).

Snowshoe 3/9  V.E.S.T. - Very Easy Snowshoe Tour to Mt. Rainier  

Sunshine, fresh snow, and great views of The Mountain-- it was a grand day for an easy snowshoe tour in Mount Rainier National Park. We toured along the scenic view road at Ricksecker Point, a relatively overlooked spot just off the road from Longmire to Paradise. It's a nearly-level route of just under a mile each way, bending around a corner at 4200 feet and giving near-non-stop views of Rainier and the Tatoosh Range peaks. As is custom with our V.E.S.T. tours, we finished after about 90 minutes or so, then went out to lunch, this time at the National Park Inn at Longmire.

Hike 3/6  Kitsap Tripleheader  

The bustling Kitsap Peninsula on the west side of Puget Sound has over 250,000 residents, but there are some nice opportunities for hiking over there. We picked out three short hikes to make a day trip: Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve, Twanoh State Park, and Mary Theler Wetlands Trail.  All three are connected to Hood Canal, so we were close to sea level the whole time. Rain and snow arrived after 11:00am, a sign that winter is not checking out just yet. The trails at Twanoh State Park were damaged by blown down trees, so hiking there was limited, but the other areas worked out OK. We covered about 4 miles total, and got to see some interesting sights along the way.

Walk 3/4  Soaring Eagle Regional Park  

This park, which was named by a local school girl back when it opened in the early 2000's, is run by King County Parks, and occupies about 700 acres near the city of Sammamish. It's mainly just a nice second-growth forest on gently rolling terrain, with a network of many miles of trails. The predominant trees are alder and maple, so in winter the sun streams in nicely through the leaf-less trees. We walked a loop route of about three miles on the trail system. Plenty of snow remained from the February storms, but it was conveniently all lying off the trails, making the hiking much simpler than it might have been.

Snowshoe 3/3  Grace Lakes  

Sunny but chilly at Stevens Pass for this scenic tour of 5 different lakes. Starting near the ski area with temperatures hovering around 15 degrees, we headed up the hillside through forest, occasionally finding clearing to sample the ever-widening views. We eventually got up to about 4900 feet in elevation, where the snow depth is over 8 feet. A diverse group of 11 tackled every challenge, shook off the cold conditions, and had a splendid time. Wound up doing about 4 miles, 900 feet of elevation gain.

Snowshoe 3/2  Lake Angeles  

This was a first-time snowshoe trip to a mountain lake in the Olympics a few miles south of Port Angeles. Reached by a 3.5-mile trail that climbs about 2500 feet, Lake Angeles is set in a deep bowl beneath tall cliffs on three sides. The trail led through a dense forest to the lake, where we headed out across the lake surface to enjoy the views that suddenly opened up. Snow conditions were ideal, with a nice established trail leading the whole way up. A small rounded island in the center of the lake made a perfect vantage point for surveying the surrounding. Only 6 people joined me this time, so maybe we'll have to do this one again next year!

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