Hike of the week: Federation Forest State Park

January 7, 2011 

Hike description: Federation Forest State Park is a long skinny park bordered on the south by the White River and bisected east to west by state Route 410.

The park covers 619 acres of old-growth forest and includes both short interpretive trails and a network of 12.5 miles of longer trails. Most of the trails are between the highway and the river but there is exploring to be done across the highway as well, around the old, now-closed campground and on the trail that parallels the road.

Start your hike by crossing the road and heading east on the north trail. When you get to a wood bridge over a woodland creek you have reached a good turning point, though you can explore further, searching for the unsigned park boundary.

To find another wood bridge, retrace your steps and head west, passing the connector trail that goes to the entrance. This second wood bridge marks the end of the easy section of this trail. Exploring the rest of the trails on the north side of the road involves some scrambling to get around the three or four slides that accompanied the heavy rains of late 2009.

If you are appropriately dressed for a day of scrambling over and around trees, you can go farther to investigate slide areas. Or, having admired the creeks, you can turn back and explore the trails on the south side of the highway.

The recommendation is to plan your hike so that you end up by the river at lunchtime.

Picnic tables and a shelter by the river provide lunch with a spectacular view.

The open meadow by the river provides a great contrast to the heavily wooded trails.

The most direct way to get to this lower picnic area is to walk east through the parking lot until you get to the upper picnic area where you will find a trail and stairs to take you down to the lower level.

Directions: Drive state Route 410 east from Enumclaw about 18 miles to the interpretive center parking area (milepost 41), on the right-hand side of the road. If the gate is closed, retrace your route about 1/2 mile west and use the parking area located on the same side of the road.

Difficulty rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)

Miles round-trip: 10

Elevation: Minimal

Best time of year: Year-round

Map: Green Trails 238 - Greenwater

Pass: None needed

Also: There always seem to be more trails in the park than ever show on the map.

A handy navigation tip is to orient yourself to the road and river, the two “natural” boundaries of the park.

Keep yourself within sight and sound of the road and the river and have fun exploring.

The trail can be muddy in spots and the bridges slick so caution is recommended. Restrooms are in the Interpretive Building.

Trail guidebooks to check for more information on this and other hikes in the area include Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck, Washington State Parks and Best Winter Walks and Hikes in Puget Sound, all Mountaineers books.

Info: Check www.parks.wa.gov/parks for Interpretive Center hours.

Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.

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