Monday, February 3, 2014

Wanderings: The Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail

Most people wouldn't consider a January morning shrouded in dense fog with the temperature struggling to push its way above freezing to be the ideal conditions for outdoor activities.  As a person who hates being cold, I would generally include myself in that category with "most people". However, this was the morning of my birthday, and without an opportunity to go for a hike or decent walk since our Deception Pass "First Day Hike," I was feeling a bit starved for some fresh air and natural scenery and was determined to get outdoors. Being an intrepid Pacific Northwesterner and Nature Nerd who is a champion when it comes to dressing in layers, I wasn't going to let some chilly weather scare me off. And besides, being freezing cold after finishing a hike is the perfect excuse for stopping by Starbucks for a hot beverage on your way home... 



For my outdoor birthday adventure, I decided to revisit a trail that I drive past several times a week but haven't actually set foot on since I was a child: the Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail. Stretching 31 miles from Duvall to North Bend, this trail is built on an abandoned railroad grade and passes through agricultural areas, natural areas, parks, and several towns. 

Aside from the fact that it is completely flat along most of its length, one of the best things about this trail is the variety of scenery!  With views of the picturesque Snoqualmie Valley, Cascade Mountains and Snoqualmie River, the trail is never lacking natural scenery to admire and appreciate.

While I would someday love to walk the entire length of the trail, my current fitness level (out of shape!) isn't able to accommodate a 31 mile expedition. With that in mind, my husband and myself opted to walk just a few miles along the trail between Carnation and Duvall.  Thankfully by the time we set out, the fog had lifted a bit and allowed me to snap a few photos!

Beaver dam in the wetlands.  Highway 203 is in the background.
Another beaver dam - it is easy to see why they are known as "ecosystem engineers"!


Peeking between the trunks of gnarled cottonwoods, you can see the forested hillsides rising from the valley.
There are plenty of dead snags like this one along the trail - the perfect spot to look for bald eagles, although none were out and about today.
Rare wintertime greenery: licorice ferns growing on a cottonwood tree.
When we reached this spot on the trail, all I could think was "cathedral of trees". Must be even more gorgeous when the trees are leafed out!
The Snoqualmie River in its muted wintertime tones.
The sun tried very hard to burn through the fog!
I love the palette of greens and browns in the trees this time of year.

The Snoqualmie Valley is my favorite place on earth, and being able to spend time enjoying the scenery there was a wonderful birthday present!  I hope to explore other areas of the trail during the spring and summer to see the change in scenery with each season... stay tuned to A Day Without Rain for photos from those future adventures!




2 comments:

  1. This year, May I suggest a walk in the mountains....up high in the snow. Try Snowshoeing ! You will love it. The Ranger Station up at Snoqualmie Pass offers a free (donations gladly accepted) 90 minute interpretive snowshoe hike. For more information go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/mbs/home/?cid=stelprdb5403349

    I took my kids up there years ago. We purchased snowshoes and NEVER looked back. Once you learn, go to Kendall Peaks and the Gold Creek Pond areas. The silence and solitude is wonderful. Joe

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Joe! I've been wanting to try out the guided snowshoe hikes offered at Mount Rainier NP, but Snoqualmie Pass would be a bit closer to home. Definitely something to add to the "to-do" list of winter adventures!

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