Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and my family let me choose what I wanted to do, which was of course… Go Outside!
Hike: 7 miles | 50°F | Light Rain | 9AM-12PM | Lime Kiln Trail, Granite Falls, WA
This was about as last minute of a hike as I could have possibly planned – I actually googled hikes near my location as I was going to bed Saturday night, picked the first one, and we set off for it first thing in the morning. For a place I had never heard of with no prior planning it certainly turned out well!
I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this hike before – it was a nice distance (7 miles), pretty easy (only 600ft of elevation gain round trip), absolutely beautiful, and rich with interesting history. According to the signs at the trail head, there was once a railroad through this remote area, built to transport timber and the lime that was made from local limestone quarries. Because of the constant landslides and flooding of the Stillaguamish River, it was abandoned in the 1930’s, along with many rusted artifacts and the stone lime kiln that gives the trail its name. These remnants of history are preserved in a dense, mossy forest filled with ferns and wildflowers and the sounds of the rushing river.
There were broken saws everywhere, but after more than 100 years since it has been logged the forest has recovered its ancient appearance.
The lime kiln is certainly ancient looking. When you come around a corner and suddenly see a towering, fern covered structure looming in front of you, the first impression is that of an abandoned, mystical temple rather than a chimney.
It was a very cool thing to come across on a forest hike that is already so beautiful on its own. Definitely worth the drive if you find yourself in Western Washington.
We were walking back from the kiln, enjoying the colors of the rain-soaked trees and ferns and the murky green river tumbling along below the cliff the path follows, when we noticed something climbing out of a mossy stump… a frog! Apparently we had startled it, and it hopped to a branch where it clung, watching us until we said goodbye and hiked the rest of the way back. A nice little ending to a wonderful trip.
Areas visited: Lime Kiln Trail – Granite Falls, WA
Species observed: (Not too many!) American Robin, Stellar’s Jay, Pacific Chorus Frog, and slugs, snails and puppy dog tails.
If you go: Know that while this is a pretty kid-friendly trail, it is still in the wilderness – no cell service, potential wild animals, a narrow path along a steep cliff face, and the usual stinging nettles and devil’s club all along the trail. Whether it is “kid-friendly” for your family depends on you and your kids :). Also, if you’re making it all the way out here and have more energy, consider the Old Robe Canyon trail as well – the trail head starts further down the river, also following the old railway, though the two sections no longer connect. It’s a shorter hike with less elevation gain, and has some of the old railroad still intact. We’re saving it for another day, but if you go I’d love to hear about it!