BUD BLANCHER TRAIL
Starting in Eatonville and running to Pack Forest, the Bud Blancher Trail was christened in October 2014 after the completion of a pair of bridges, one over the Mashel River and the other over the Little Mashel River. Now, the gravel trail stretches about 2.5 miles before turning into a dirt road that leads users to the network of trails and unpaved roads at Pack Forest.
For walkers and others sticking to the completed portion of trail, it’s a flat trip highlighted by the two bridges. It visits Smallwood Park and has an impressive view of Mount Rainier from the short section near Swanson Airport.
After crossing the Little Mashel bridge, find Falls Trail on the uphill side of the trail. This leads to Little Mashel Falls. Be careful near the falls, however. The rocks can be very slippery, and visitors have been injured here in the past.
The other option after crossing the Little Mashel bridge is to follow the dirt road to a gate marking the entrance to Pack Forest. Inside the forest, there are more than 50 miles of trails and roads. (These are also assessable via the Falls Trail.)
Pack Forest can be a bit confusing even with a map (and a map is highly recommended). But even if you get off course, it’s hard (although, probably not entirely impossible) to stay lost for too long. The Hugo Peak Trail for hikers, 1000 Road for bikers and the horse trail are all good ways to get to the top of Hugo Peak.
From there you can keep going even farther to check out huge trees on the Trail of the Giants near Kirkland Pass; the Bethel Family rock, an engraved rock located at the highest point in the forest (about 300 feet higher than Hugo) just off of the 2000 Road loop; and 1300 Road, which offers a view of Mount Rainier.
Craig Hill, email@example.com