Out with the snow (no, it is not all gone in the Pacific NW) in with the mud. Time for spring hiking. Yesterday, I hiked the Boulder River trail with my favorite meetup group, the 40+ Slackers. The road to this trailhead is off Hwy 30 about 23.6 miles past Arlington. Make a right turn on French Creek Road just after mile post 41 and follow this to the end. Note, the road had some pretty big potholes in it. We had a couple of sedans that made it their way there, just drive with care. Also, currently, there is a big tree blocking part of the parking lot, so I would advise you to arrive early to grab a good spot.
Here are the stats per the WTA site: 8.6 miles roundtrip, 700 feet of elevation gain, highest point 1550 ft.
No parking pass is needed.
For directions and more information see wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/boulder-river
This trail is supposedly hikeable year-round, but it would be advisable to check trip reports before making your way there in the winter months. I did see some earlier trip reports that noted snow on the trail, and we did see a few small patches off the path on the day we went, but the trail itself was clear. This trail was overall fairly easy not too much elevation gain, the trail meandered by the river with some ups and downs along the way. The difficulty came with some of the obstacles along the way. There were two big trees that had fallen that you had to climb over, and a few small ones. We got lucky because per a recent trip report, the forest service had just put a notch in one of the trees making it slightly easier to get over. The next obstacle was mud.
There was a lot of it. This is to be expected in spring hiking, so it is advisable to have waterproof boots and gaiters. I was really to happy to have mine yesterday, as I stepped in at least one or two mud spots that were about ankle-deep, possibly covering my whole boot (thank goodness for gaiters). Luckily there were a lot of streams which became a great spot to wash off your boots. The most challenging muddy spot was at the end where you have to climb over fallen tree’s roots, then drop into the mud. There were also a few slippery little log bridges to cross that test your balance. Needless to say, we were all nice and dirty by the end.
The route starts on a nice wide flat trail, enjoy the mossy forest around you, the ferns, trees, etc. So beautiful. Once you are a little more than a mile in you will see the first water fall. The WTA site notes two waterfalls but we saw three, so I am wondering if we got a bonus with spring run-off.
After you pass the first waterfall keep going past a switch back and admire some one of the old growth trees on the trail (there were many worth hugging). Further up the trail is the second waterfall. The WTA site says the second waterfall is 1.5 miles down the trail but I am unsure of the distances since we saw three falls.
Eventually we came to a 3rd waterfall, which was also impressive, as was the forest along the way. There are also a few nice river views along the way.
The trail eventually drops down into a marshy area (lots of mud) and ends at a nice lunch spot by the river. The largest mud obstacle that I mentioned above was close to the end of the trail, so if you have gotten there, don’t give up. At this time, I didn’t notice any mosquitoes on the trail, I think it is still too cold for them, but there were a few in the parking lot, when it warms up you may want to bring bug spray.
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