8.1 mi rt
max: 1679 ft
gain: ~1800 ft ascent
gpx tracks, use at your own risk: Chuckanut
SNOW! We have been getting it up here over the last week or so. We took this walk on day two or three of the first snow event so it had been melting and it was slushy most of the day. We have had another snow event since, need to go play in it.
This hike was not my intended goal for the day but the gate on Cleator was closed so I had to come up with a plan B. I had grabbed Natalie and was going to check out the planned bike route from Lost Lake to Pine and Cedar Lakes. It isn’t built yet but the flagging is there so I figured I could find my way. Buuuuttttt, no. Gate is closed. I wanted to get going so we went back towards town and parked at the North Chuckanut trail parking area (N48 42.068 W122 29.363) and headed up the trail. I don’t usually park down here because I have a friend who lives up at the top of California right next to the trail junction but I decided to walk the lower portion just to remind myself of it…okay, did that.
The trail leaves the parking area and heads up a short hill before it swings left and starts the climb through an old wooded area with just sword ferns for undergrowth. After about a mile you come to the junction (and my friends house) with the horse alternative trail that left the hiker trail about 0.2 mi from the parking area. This is a short hundred foot or so trail that connects to the California Rd and is how I walked out (and often do). From this side it looks like a driveway but it is actually an easement and there is a clear park post on the other end.
I decided to head up Hemlock past the pond and get into the Chuckanuts that way. I remember when Miranda was a pup and I first started my walks, it seemed like I was so far away from civilization when I came up here…my how things (me) have changed. But I do like this area and feel fortunate to have it in my backyard. There are miles and miles of trails with shared usage.
Over the years they have put up signage with maps and location names in case you need assistance. I started at the very top of that map and headed south. Once you leave the intersection of Hemlock/Lost Lake trails, the Hemlock starts its slow gradual climb up. Shortly before the Hemlock/Huckleberry lower junction we met a man with a large, energetic young dog who was pissing Natalie off so Nat and I went up the Huckleberry and they continued on up the Hemlock.
This section of the Huckleberry used to terminate at a viewpoint but in the last few years they have connected it on the far side back to the Hemlock and there is no view any longer as the trees have grown up but it is a nice 0.8 mi trail none the less. The next junction is a big one, you can continue on up the newish Hemlock/Huckleberry trail I spoke of a few years ago when I was helping with the building, you can go right and go up the Salal or you can go left and go the old way up the Hemlock that takes you to the junction with Pine and Cedar/Raptor ridge. We went left and went up the Hemlock. This section is a mile long and gains a little elevation traveling though younger forested areas until just before the next junction when it goes back into older forests.
At the junction going straight will lead you to Pine and Cedar lakes along a pretty level ridge. Going right goes up to Raptor Ridge passing through a large boulder area that is un-passable by horses hence the connector new trail. This is an awesome area, the trees and boulders alike are huge. But today the wind started kicking in so we didn’t take the short side trail over to the rock at Raptor… it was also freezing so there was a good chance that rock would be slick and it is a long way down if you fall off of that.
Shortly after the junction to the Raptor Rock, there are still more choices to make. The trail to the left is the Hemlock Raptor connector trail, continuing straight leads to the Lost Lake trail via the Raptor Ridge Lost Lake connector trail. This is how we went today.
This trail is also about a mile long through older forests with cool pocket wetlands and mossy boulders. This is also were I saw the only wildlife of the day, some kind of raptor up in a tree. Seemed fitting.
We hit the Lost lake trail and I thought about taking that to the Madronna Crest trail to the Salal trail to the Hush Hush (now called Lower Salal) back to Lost Lake just to get as many trails with different names in but it was slushy and had been raining all day so we just went down the Lost Lake trail back to my friends house where we had a nice visit before Natalie and I walked out down the road back to the truck.