Sunday, March 27, 2011

Old Robe Canyon Trail

Well, we decided to brave the chance of rain and head out for a hike on Saturday! We went to Old Robe Canyon trail because it isn't too far to drive and it's not a long hike. I'm so glad we decided to go, as the weather was nice and we just got sprinkled on a little bit from time to time!

My husband enjoying the peace and quiet before my son
joined him....

Nothing more fun than walking on a log....

The trailhead for the Old Robe Canyon Trail is on the Mountain Loop Highway about 7 miles East of Granite Falls. You will see a big brick marker that says Old Robe Trail....but the words are a little worn and hard to is also right across the street from Forest Road 41. Parking is on the shoulder of the road. There were 3 other cars parked when we arrived about 2pm.

You can see that the kids can hardly contain themselves...

The trail is closed 1.2 miles the hike is about 2.4 miles round trip. There is a bad rock slide that closed the trail before you get to the railroad tunnels.

The trail starts off through the forest and goes into a series of switchbacks that take you down about 350 ft. This is the only portion of the trail with any elevation change. About halfway through the switchbacks, if you look back off the trail you will see a wrecked looks older and like it was rolled a few times....we all speculated as to how it came to rest there.

Remember whenever you are hiking, please stay on the trail! Don't cut across switchbacks as it causes erosion and ruins the trail! There are a number of areas on the switchback portion of this trail that are eroded. They have placed wooden fence pieces to try to stop hikers from using the shortcuts.

After you come down off the switchbacks you get into the wetland portion of the this time of the year (late March) it was quite wet with lots of pond/marsh areas. We could hear frogs croaking as we walked.

This beautiful flower was growing in the water next to some skunk was really pretty, but I can't figure out what it is...does anyone know?

The trail was wet and muddy in places and there were several areas that needed to be crossed on logs or rocks

You follow the river for most of trail after you come down from the switchbacks. The river was running a lot higher than it was the last time we hiked the trail and there is a lot of new erosion, water damage and mudslides. There are also numerous trees down along the trail as well. It is quite obvious that winter took it's toll on the trail!

As you near the end of the trail, the old railway becomes more visible. The pieces of stone and wood that made up the tracks are still visible as well as metal spikes and a lot of old bricks.

There is a really pretty waterfall that runs across the tracks just before the trail is closed.

There is a railroad tunnel that is just visible from where the slide has closed the trail. There are some people that pick their way across the slide area to get to the tunnels and the trails beyond. We have never tried as we felt it was too dangerous.

If you are hiking with children or pets or both I would make sure that they stay close. Keep your pets on a leash. I remember reading about someone who lost a dog over the edge on this trail several years ago.

Yes, I'll admit it.....I have a fungus is the proof:

I think this  may be a polypore of some type

Some sort of cup fungus or lichen

Golden Jelly Cone
Some sort of shelf fungus...

I think this might be Turkey Tail

Not sure about this's covered with green algae
because the area is so wet....I thought it was pretty though!

Another cup fungus...
I'm thinking this might be a tooth fungus of some sort...

It was a great hike! I'll leave you with this picture of the river....until next time....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mercer Slough Nature Park trails

Well, we picked the most beautiful day of the year thus far to go to the Mercer Slough Nature Park Trails!
One of the many boardwalks

A tree just starting to bloom - against the gorgeous
blue sky!

It was a beautiful, warm (for spring) day!  If you are meeting anyone there, I would suggest deciding on exactly which trailhead you will be meeting at, as there are quite a few different ones! We parked at the Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm. It has parking, trailhead access, a working blueberry farm, bathrooms (open late spring through fall). The blueberry farm has U-pick berries (in season) as well as seasonal produce (not open yet). So if you decided to do this when the blueberries were ripe you could double a nice urban hike with a berry picking day! The trails were a little muddy in spots, but we were able to pick our way around the mud most of the time (I would recommend boots or shoes that can get dirty if you go when it is wet).

There are several different looping trails for a total of about 6 miles. The trails are a variety of dirt, peat moss (and mud), boardwalks, and gravel.

Not much elevation gain, just a pleasant urban hike/stroll through a wetland area, forest and working farm with a view of the Bellevue skyline in the background.

We saw a turtle, a Stellar Jay, and a hummingbird.

The turtle - enjoying the sun

The turtle was not shy and let the kids come right up to it and
pet it's shell.

The Stellar Jay, who was having a raucous conversation up
in the tree with a friend.
The skunk cabbage was just starting to bloom, it was absolutely beautiful and starting to be fragrant.

There was no limit to the gorgeous scenery! 

A single Salmonberry blossom - one of the first

The Oregon Grapes were just starting to bloom

I love shelf fungus and thought this was
a great cluster of it!

Some rogue Daffodils that were just starting to bloom

We had a great day! This was a beautiful park to walk in and we saw a few people but it was far from crowded. I would definitely recommend going "off-season" - one of the great benefits of homeschooling! I have a feeling it could get very crowded during the warmer times of the year!