Hike description: Old-growth forest, waterfalls and a family-friendly river walk. What more could you want for a lowland fall and winter leg stretch? The Boulder River Trail starts on a logging road grade in an old logged area. You’ll notice the difference as you quickly get into old-growth forest that was spared the loggers’ bite. The trail follows the river and at about one mile brings you to the Boulder River Wilderness. A way trail leads down to the river to some riverside campsites and the remains of an old shelter. In another half mile you will come to a twin waterfall. If the short legs in your party have had enough hiking for the day, follow the way trail to the base of the falls and you can make this your turnaround point after enjoying lunch by the water. But, if the wonderful sounds of flowing water and the lush forest whet your appetite, you will be amply rewarded by continuing on. Across the river you will see a series of waterfalls. Then the trail will take you away from the river and up Granny Grunt Hill. The short ascent (about 170 feet in 0.1 mile) is the most workout you’ll get on this trail. Don’t give up, you’re almost there! After getting you up the hill the trail brings you back down to another wonderful riverside lunch spot at the old Boulder Ford site. Many years ago, the trail continued on to the lookout on Three Fingers. However, the trail was abandoned due to clear-cutting activities in the 1960s. This is a true four-season trail: Autumn colors and waterfalls dumping spring melt over the precipice alternate with rain-polished greenery. In the fall and winter be prepared for mud puddles on the trail and our ambient Northwest dampness – rain gear and boots (for splashing!) are essential gear. In the summer this trail and the river offer respite from the heat.
Directions: From Interstate 5, take Exit 208 to Highway 530. Follow Highway 530 eastbound for 24 miles. At milepost 41 turn right onto French Creek Road/FS 2010. The unsigned French Creek Road is east of the community of Hazel and west of Fortson. Stay on FS 2010 for 3.7 miles and you will be at the trailhead.
Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 8.6
Elevation: 700 feet
Best time of year: Year-round
Map: Green Trails 77 - Oso and 109 - Granite Falls
Pass: A pass is not required.
Information: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest: www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs; Verlot Public Service Center, 360-691-7791; Darrington Ranger, 360-436-1155. “Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington & the Cascades,” “Day Hiking North Cascades,” “100 Hikes in Washington’s Glacier Peak Region: The North Cascades,” all Mountaineers Books.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.thenewstribune.com/hiking.