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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Walk 5/31 Pioneer Park, Mercer Island
Great walks can be found all over our region, even in the middle of bustling cities. Mercer Island is no exception, and Pioneer Park is a wonderful island of green on the island in Lake Washington. Trails meander the 120-acre park and provided us a nice forest walk of about 3 miles.
Hike 5/27 North Fork Sauk River
A beautiful sunny spring day, and a wonderful, (mostly) relaxing hike along a wild river in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The trailhead at the end of the bumpy North Fork off the Mountain Loop Highway was unexpectedly packed with cars, most of which belonged to skiers and climbers who were headed to Glacier Peak on the 3-day holiday weekend. We didn't encounter many day hikers, and mostly had solitude on this great old growth forest trail. The ambitious group decided to go for a 9-mile round trip, hiking in as far as Red Creek and back. There were a few challenges, namely a noisy rushing stream crossing, but everyone persisted and had a great day.
Hike 5/26 Granite Lakes
This was a never-before-offered hike on a relatively new trail not far out of North Bend off the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road. A surprising number of new trails and trailheads are being developed up there, and this was one we had to check out. Starting from a brand spanking new paved trailhead and beginning on a wide, smooth path for the first 1.5 miles, the way to Granite Lakes eventually becomes more and more primitive. It follows old logging roads turned to trails and winds up as a narrow path through small trees and streams leading to the upper of two small lakes, set nicely under a ring of modest mountains. The round trip for our strong group was close to 9 miles, 24oo feet gain.
Walk 5/22 Bellevue Botanical Gardens
Bellevue isn't exactly renown for its lovely forest trails and green spaces, but if you know where to go, there's an amazing wealth of such places. For this trip, we started at Wilburton Hill Park for a nice stroll through some peaceful woods, and connected up to the Botanical Gardens for a delightful wander through a plant lover's paradise. The gardens feature a variety of habitats, with plenty of both native and imported species to savor.
Bike 5/20 Tacoma Narrows - Cushman and Pierson Trails
Our first bike tour of 2018 took us to the South Sound area to check out two trails on opposite sides of the Tacoma Narrows. Our out-and-back trip of around 23 miles took us across the Narrows bridge twice, and covered all of the Scott Pierson Trail (Tacoma) and Cushman Trail (Gig Harbor). There was a variety of settings, from the noisy Highway 16 corridor to peaceful sections through parks and quiet neighborhoods. The Cushman Trail was particularly rolling, so we got in our workout on hills up to 10% grade (trust me, that's a good workout). Lots of other bicyclists and walkers were out enjoying the trails, and taking the fun journey high over the water on the Narrows Bridge. Definitely was a unique type of trip today.
Hike 5/19 Lower Gray Wolf River
What a great series of river hikes we've been doing lately--t he Suiattle, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie, the Taylor, and now this one near Sequim. The Gray Wolf flows down from the slopes of 7000-foot peaks in the eastern Olympics, running through a lush valley on its way to meet the Dungeness River and eventually spilling its waters into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The trail travels an up and down route, saving some of the best river views for the latter stages, deep into the Buckhorn Wilderness Area. We hiked about 7 miles this day, enjoying a peaceful retreat to a serene corner of the Olympics.
Hike 5/15 Middle Fork Snoqualmie River
This is one of the nicest river walks in western Washington, located near North Bend on a stretch of wild river that flows down from the crest of the Cascades. Fortunately there's a wonderful trail that follows the river for miles and miles, and today we hiked about a three mile portion each way from the trailhead about 18 miles from North Bend. It didn't hurt that it was a cloudless spring day, about 65 degrees, with a light breeze every now and then. Wildflowers were out, a few nice side streams provided natural air conditioning, and the trail was in superb condition. Simply a nice relaxing day out.
Hike 5/12 Fourth of July Creek
This trail starts on the Icicle River Road about 10 miles from Leavenworth and climbs steadily for over 4000 feet to the crest of Icicle Ridge. It's at it's best in the spring when the flowers are in bloom, the temperatures are comfortable, the snow has mostly melted off the trail, and the views of the nearby snow-capped peaks on a clear day are eye-popping. Much of the mountainside there has been burned in recent years, which opens up the views even more, and also provides some fascinating sculptures in the charred trees. Everyone in this very strong group made it up to the at least the 6000-foot level (we started at 2300 feet) and some even made the summit of Icicle Ridge at over 7000 feet.
Walk 5/11 Leavenworth Waterfront Park & Lunch
We drove from the misty gray of the west side, through near-white out at Stevens Pass, and into beautiful sunshine on the east side and in Leavenworth. The Waterfront Trail can be accessed in several spots; we started from Division Street in downtown, following a mostly wide and easy path for a 3-mile out-and-back stroll. One surprise was some flooded and muddy trail, thanks to the high water in the river spilling over in places. After the walk, we spent some time in town having lunch, shopping, and sight-seeing. We even made an unscheduled stop on the way home to check out the raging waters of Deception Falls.
Hike 5/9 Suiattle River Trail
We had a cloudy but dry day for this hike into the Glacier Peak Wilderness along the Suiattle. The trail goes for many miles and is a thoroughfare for backpackers later in the summer, but we just sampled the first three miles or so. Even in that stretch, there's plenty to see, from huge old growth trees and lovely spring wildflowers to the rugged scenery and the wild flowing river. The trail was mostly quite easy with the notable exception of a large landslide area with numerous blown down trees we had to squeeze under. A trail crew from WTA was making a little progress, and it was quite a mess, but fortunately only took a couple minutes to get through.
Hike 5/6 Heybrook Ridge Trail
There's a new trail out there, only 40 miles from Everett in a brand new county park near Index. The Heybrook Ridge Trail, which is not to be confused with the nearby Heybrook Lookout Trail, begins from a small parking area right across from the bridge over the North Fork of the Skykomish at the entrance to the town of Index. Thanks to dedicated groups who worked to preserve the land, design and build the trail, there's now a real gem of a hike up to a fabulous viewpoint. It's steep but short, only about 3.3 miles round trip, gaining about 800 feet. Considering the rugged hillside it ascends, the trail is remarkably well-built, mostly fairly smooth, and has numerous switchbacks to ease the effort. Best of all are the panoramic views of the Skykomish Valley, and the peaks from Baring to Index. The trail is already quite popular, and deservedly so.
Hike 5/5 Sage Hills, Wenatchee
Sooooo many wonderful wildflowers! The open hills just west of Wenatchee look rather plain at first glance, but get on the trails there in early May and your senses will be treated to a sweet immersion in wildflower therapy. Lupine, balsamroot, Spring gold, white top, brodiaea, fleabane, fiddle neck, and countless other varieties made for interesting discoveries at every turn in the trail. Throw in some unexpected rock outcroppings and canyons, and the nice vistas of the Wenatchee Valley and you've got a delightful spring hike. We covered a little over 7 miles and 900 feet gain in all.
Walk 5/2 Stimpson Family Nature Preserve
Ahhh-- nothing like a peaceful walk on a gentle trail in a beautiful forest on a nice spring day. The Stimpson Preserve, just off Lake Louise Road only a few minutes outside Bellingham, provides some fine pathways that meander through the trees, over tiny streams, and around rolling hills while making a 3-mile loop.