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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bridal Veil Falls

All I can say is WOW!  We went to Bridal Veil Falls near Index WA on July 28th and it was amazing! This is about a 5 mile hike medium in difficulty.  The trails are quite narrow with some mud and water over the walkway.  Some areas are also rocky so watch your step.  I wouldn't recommend bringing anyone under 5 years old.

Don't let the trail fool you.  It was narrow with lots of bugs and not fabulous views.  The forest was nice and quiet with birds sounding in the distance.

You will walk through the forest for about 1 1/2 miles and the trees open up to amazing views of the tree and snow filled mountains.  My boys just wanted to sit there and enjoy the view for a while.

After this viewpoint you will walk a bit further and see a sign that points right for the falls and left for Lake Serene ( about 2 more miles with strenuous switchbacks).  We stayed to the right for today.

You will notice as you continue up that the temperature slowly cools and you know you are getting close.  You will pass a moss covered rock on the right and then you will hit the STEPS.

We counted 187 on our way.  Whenever I count stairs I always seem to be off by a few.  See how many you can count and let me know how close we were.

As I took pictures the boys got a lead on me and all I hear is them yelling "Oh my gosh mom!  You have to see this."  This must be good!

So I continued up to the top and they were right! Amazing!  We were so close, we could feel the cool mist on our faces and could touch the icy water!

These pictures and videos can never show the true majesty and beauty of God's creations.  Just know that everything posted here is even more beautiful in person.  My oldest son said that this is the best hike yet and we have done many.  I always tell my kids when we see these awesome sights that  you have to work hard to experience the best life has to offer and this is a perfect example.  We sat for about a half an hour just watching the falls before we had to go back down.  We didn't want to leave.

To get to the trailhead, travel east on Highway 2  from Monroe, WA. At milepost 35.2, about 21 miles east of Monroe, turn right onto Mount Index Road (Forest Road 6020 - gravel). Travel 0.3 mile on Forest Road 6020 and branch right onto Forest Road 6020-109 (gravel) follow the sign that says Lake Serene. The trailhead parking is just ahead.  A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead. There are two potties in the parking area (pretty fresh when we were there). 
Check out my post on Where to buy your Forest Pass

I hope you enjoy this hike as much as we did.  We made a couple of really fun stops on the way home that I will ad in a new page called "fun stops on the way".  Keep your eyes peeled. 

I always like to hear your comments, so if you have a favorite hike, comment, or question, let me know!  You can also get email notifications when I make a new post by following me by email at the top of the page.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Where to buy your Forest Pass

There are many trailheads that require a Northwest Forest Pass.  This pass allows you to park at the trailhead and the money from the purchase of these passes goes towards maintaining the trails that we use.

You can purchase a day pass for $5 or you can purchase a yearly pass for $30.  If you think you will be doing 6 or more hikes per year, the yearly pass is definitely worth it.  Even if you don't, the money goes towards preserving our trails and it keeps you from having to purchase a pass every time you go on a hike. You can check here to see if your hiking location requires a pass Locations Requiring a Pass.

For example, on our last hike, I had to drive past our destination to go to the ranger station and purchase a pass.  I decided to purchase a yearly pass so I didn't have that problem again.  Here is what a yearly pass looks like.

You can purchase a forest pass at any ranger station and online at Forest Pass Online.  Check here for local vendors in your area  Forest Pass Vendors. Other places that you can purchase a  pass include:

Sports Authority
Big 5
Fred Meyer

Most sporting goods stores should have these available.  Happy Hiking!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lake 22

What a great day for a hike!  We went to Lake 22 on July 18th.  Not too hot, not too cold.  One thing about hiking is that the weather can change mid hike because of the elevation, so we always bring jackets just in case.  Beware, this post contains lots of pictures.

Because the trail is well used, some areas have exposed roots and are quite rocky.  This makes it hard for little feet, so I would stick with children over 7.  There are also some areas with water over the walkway so watch your step.

The trail stretches about 5 1/2 miles round trip and the elevation gain is 1300ft. on the way up, so there are some tough sections.  There was a bit of snow towards the top, but nothing unmanageable.

Nature was at its finest.  We even saw a chipmunk on the way.

The scenery was beautiful, with ancient  cedar trees and rushing waterfalls the entire way.

Once you get to the top, everything opens up and you see a lake that seems to make its own shade of bluish green.  When we were there the lake was still covered in slush.

The boys tried to break up the slush by throwing rocks at it.  I don't know about your kids, but mine could throw rocks in the water for hours (maybe a boy thing?). 

This hike is a must do.  The boys had a great time and the scenery is amazing! We will definitely do it again.  I would say the trail is hikeable most years June through October.  However this year June may have been a bit snowy due to the weather.

To get here drive past Granite Falls and follow the Mountain Loop Highway east for 11 miles to the Verlot Public Service Center. Proceed 2 more miles to the trailhead, on your right. You will need a wilderness pass so you can stop at the Verlot ranger station on the way. The trailhead parking lot does have potties.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Deception Falls

In my need to get a little more exercise in, we stopped at Deception Falls on the way home from Lake Janus.  About 15 miles west on Hwy 2 you can take a right into the parking lot for Deception Falls.  The boys were not very excited about this since they had already taken their wet shoes and socks off but they begrudgingly got out of the car.

The boys enjoyed  crossing the stream along the trail.

 We found a tree that looked like it had a face on it.

This is more of a walk than a hike since it is only 1/2 mile (also a .2 mile option), but it is amazing!  I don't know that I would make the long drive to just see this, but it is definitely a must see if you are in the area.

A wilderness pass is not needed to park in the parking lot and there are potties (really stinky when we were there).  The boys were extremely happy that we ended up stopping and said they wanted to bring their friends next time.

This is very child friendly, even for very young ones. The trail is well maintained but is not stroller or wheelchair accessible due to stairs leading to the viewpoints.

From Everett, drive east on US-2, 10 miles east of Skykomish to the Deception Falls Picnic Area (located 8 miles west of Stevens Pass.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lake Janus

Well, we ventured to Lake Janus today (July 22nd) off of Highway 2 Stevens Pass east.  The trail is 7 miles round trip. According to my sources, this is best traversed mid July to October.  So, I should have known, since our summer has been terrible that the trail was not ready for us.  We made it about 1 mile before the snow overtook the trail and we could go no further. There was mud and water most of the way, so our shoes were soaked by the end.

We did make it to a nice viewpoint where there was a pond/swamp area. I noticed a lot of bugs while we were there because of the standing water so I would suggest using bug repellent or using a bug bracelet. 

I would suggest making this trek in August or September to make sure the trail is dry and the snow is mostly melted.  This trail is medium in difficulty and I wouldn't suggest bringing young children.  My boys are 9 and 11 and they were fine.  The trail is uphill and steep in some areas with an elevation gain of 1100 feet. I was very unhappy that we were unable to finish what we started, but I figured it was better to turn around than have to spend the night in the snow after getting lost.

You do not need a wilderness pass to park at the Smith Brook trailhead.  There are also no potties, so I would stop at the Skykomish ranger station on the way and use the restroom there (aka stinky port a potty).

To get to the Smith Brook trailhead you  take US2 East about 55 miles.  You will pass the Skykomish Ranger Station on the way.  Turn left on the Smith Brook Road NO. 6700.  You will stop at the stop sign and go straight across US2 West continuing on Smith Brook Road.  You will drive this road (mostly dirt) for 3 miles and reach the trailhead on the left.

I suggest whenever taking a hike in the wilderness to sign in on the log book at the entrance to the trailhead.  You will enter the number in your party and the date just in case something happens.  When you return to the trailhead, sign out and the park ranger will know you have arrived safely.  This is a great safety precaution just in case.

My boys favorite part was when we got back to the trailhead.  Here is a clip.

We plan to do this hike again towards the end of summer so keep your eyes out.

On the way home we did stop at another destination hike that I will post soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Iron Goat Trail

Our first hike of the summer was supposed to be to Tonga Ridge on July 11th.  Unfortunately when we arrived at the Skykomish Ranger Station to get our wilderness pass, we were told that this trailhead was snowed in and they gave us another option, the Iron Goat Trail. You can check the history of the trail out at .  It is pretty interesting.

We went with another mom and her 2 boys which makes it more fun for the kids that they get to go with their friends.  This was more of a walk through the woods rather than a hike since it was pretty near flat the entire way, but it was beautiful and about 6 miles round trip.  We actually went to the first trailhead turnoff when we were supposed to go to the second one that is marked with a red train caboose.  This makes sense since the trail is an old railroad tunnel.  Parts of the tunnel are still there and they are amazing!  This is a great hike to do on a hot day since you can feel the cool breeze from the exposed tunnels and the cold air from the access tunnels.

This trail is easy for small children and stroller and wheelchair accessible.  There was one small 6 ft section that still had a bit of snow, but the rest is flat and well maintained.  Actually the day we were there, a maintenance crew was weedwacking and clearing the path to keep the path well maintained.  Not as peaceful, but much appreciated.

To get here take the Stevens Pass Highway, U.S. 2, to Milepost 55, 6 miles east of the town of Skykomish or to Milepost 58.3 at Scenic (5.6 miles west of the summit). Turn north on to the Old Cascade Highway, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Road #67. Proceed to the junction with USFS Road #6710 (2.3 miles from Milepost 55 or 1.4 miles from Milepost 58.3). Turn onto USFS Road #6710 and proceed 1.4 miles to the Martin Creek trailhead parking lot.

The above directions go to the trailhead we parked at and we liked this way the best. You hit the turnaround at the caboose and the kids enjoyed playing on it before we turned around  and hiked back.

You do need a wilderness pass to park here.  You will want to stop at the Skykomish Ranger Station on your way.  The pass is $5 and is good for the day.  You can buy a yearly pass which is $30. 

There is a bathroom at the ranger station and at the trailhead and turnaround for those of you with children (who are we kidding, moms too).

 Be sure to check out this link USDA forest service website before you head out to make sure trail conditions are good.  Many of these trails are only accessible May-October.