Looking to get outdoors beyond neighborhood walks, now that Snohomish County is in Phase 2 and summer is starting? Parks have opened, although parking may be limited at some. Here are six parks that offer walking/hiking escapes close-by or a short drive away. All allow dogs on leash.
Yost Park is in the heart of Edmonds, popular for its public swimming pool and tennis courts. But this small, 48-acre park also features 1.5 miles of well-constructed hiking trails that traverse a deep, forested ravine and surrounding hillsides. Hike through native vegetation and forest that features western red cedar, red alder, bigleaf maple and western hemlock trees.
Also hike along the Shell Creek Nature Trail at the bottom of the ravine. The creek hosts amphibians and salmon when spawning. If you’re a birder, watch for barred owls, pileated woodpeckers, northern flickers, spotted towhees and Cooper’s hawks, as well as many small native birds.
Meadowdale Beach Park, on the Edmonds-Lynnwood boundary, offers another ravine hike – this one to a saltwater beach. Here you can also enjoy tranquil forest hiking, seasonal wild flowers and birding along a 2.5-mile, roundtrip trail. It descends over 400 feet through the ravine and then follows Lund’s Gulch Creek to large meadow with covered picnic area, volleyball field, ranger station and privies.
Continue through a pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks to the saltwater beach. Go beachcombing and enjoy views of the Olympic Mountains when skies are clear.
Japanese Gulch Park is a 144-acre forested ravine located just south of downtown Mukilteo. It got its name from the Japanese millworkers of the Mukilteo Lumber Company, who lived in company housing in the gulch from 1903 to 1930.
Japanese Gulch offers great walking, hiking and biking trails, mostly easy to moderate, along a 3.4-mile main Loop Trail. You’ll encounter a tumbling creek and an old dam and spillway, remnants of the lumber mill operation. One steep trail section climbs 480 feet to the gulch rim, providing views through the trees of Possession Sound.
Watch for pileated woodpeckers, great blue herons, black-tailed deer and seasonal spawning salmon as you explore the trail. The gulch has easy access from Mukilteo’s Tails to Trails Dog Park and the Community Garden at the 76th Street Trailhead.
McCollum Pioneer Park in south Everett offers 78 acres of open space, wetlands and woodlands. Walk or jog the mostly level, 1.5-mile Forest Loop Trail; its eastern half skirts wetlands ringing North Creek. Wander through large Douglas firs, red cedars and lush ferns. Listen for woodpeckers, jays and smaller birds.
Families with young children can stroll a half-mile walking path and enjoy the kids’ playground. There is also an interpretive boardwalk at the Adopt-A-Stream’s Northwest Stream Center, an ecology learning facility next to North Creek. The park includes picnic tables/shelter.
Langus Riverfront Park lies just west of Everett, leading to Spencer Island and its more rustic trail. This area is part of the Snohomish River Estuary, nicknamed the “Everett Everglades” for its many winding waterways and abundant bird life. Here you can see waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors; bald eagles, hawks and herons are common sights. Spencer Island is a designated stop on the Washington State Great Birding Trail because so many fall and spring bird migrations move through these wetlands.
Langus Riverfront Park features scenic vistas along a paved, 3-mile trail that loops around the southern tip of Smith Island. Via pedestrian bridge, it also connects to Spencer Island, which has 3.5-miles of dirt and bark trails.
Walkers, joggers, cyclists and stroller-pushing moms enjoy the Langus Riverfront’s wide asphalt path, while Spencer Island is for hikers and bird-watchers. Here the trail follows the tops of dikes built in the 1930s for flood control and to create farm acreage. Ironically, restoration efforts have breached the dikes in various places to allow tidal flooding and help spawning salmon.
Lord Hill Regional Park is Snohomish’s largest county park with more than 1,463 acres and an extensive trail system. Located south of the town of Snohomish and west of Monroe, this park is easy to reach and features over six miles of easy-to-moderate designated trails. It is named for Mitchell Lord, who homesteaded there on 130 acres in the 1880s.
Most trails meander through forest and wetlands, occasionally ascending hills to provide panoramic views of Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and the surrounding Snohomish River valley. The park borders the Snohomish River on its southwest side, providing river access.
Listen for songbirds, woodpeckers and owls while exploring the upland areas. Watch for beaver activity and dams in the wetland ponds. Reach viewpoints such as Devil’s Butte Lookout and the ridge of Pipeline Trail. Two favorite hikes are the Beaver Lake Loop and Temple Pond Loop, which ties into the Pipeline Trail. Horseback riding and mountain biking are allowed on designated trails.
Meadowdale Beach Park
Japanese Gulch Park
McCollum Pioneer Park
Langus Riverfront Park
Lord Hill Regional Park
Also visit the Washington Trails Association’s website to check out each park:
— By Julie Gangler
Julie Gangler is a freelance writer who has worked as a media relations consultant for the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau. She began her career as a staff writer at Sunset Magazine and later was the Alaska/Northwest correspondent for Travel Agent Magazine.