Middle Fork Snoqualmie River
Hike of the Week:
June 16, 2008
Location: Near North Bend
Distance: 12 miles roundtrip; possibilities for extended backpacking
Elevation: 300 ft. gain to 1200 ft
Map: Green Trails 174 Mt Si, 175 Skykomish
While many river hikes spend most of the time shrouded in trees, this hike along the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River opens up to good views of Mt. Garfield and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness along the way.
The Middle Fork area used to be a place to stay away from - a dumping ground for unwanted objects and the stomping grounds for unsavory sorts. Not anymore! The Middle Fork Coalition, a group of dedicated people, worked for years to clean the area up. This trail is one of many outcomes of all of this hard work. It is lovingly maintained by WTA and several other volunteer service groups.
In fact, the trail may be in better shape than the gravel road on the way in. The Middle Fork road is a notoriously potholed adventure. Word has it, however, that a road crew recently graded it, which is great news for those driving a sedan.
The hike begins by crossing the river on a suspension bridge. The first mile is quite scenic as it follows the river under some rocky cliffs and looks out at Garfield Mountain (see photo). The river is flowing quite high right now (endless snowmelt) and you can really feel its energy.
The trail stays high above the river for the second mile until it returns to its banks at the three mile mark. This is a nice turn-around for a day hike, but you can continue on. The maps show lots of possibilities for longer day hikes or backpacks - up the Dingford Creek Trail to Hester Lake; continuing on the same trail to Goldmyer Hot Springs; even trekking up to popular Snow Lake on the Rock Creek Trail.
One further note: the Middle Fork Snoqualmie trail is also used by bicycles. They are allowed on the trail on odd-numbered days of the week. It should be bicycle-free on even-numbered days.
Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District: (425) 888-1421. Guidebook: Day Hike! Snoqualmie Pass Region by Dan Nelson & Alan Bauer (Mountaineers Books).
From Seattle drive east on Interstate 90. Take Exit 34 (signed 468th Avenue) and turn left. You will pass a truck plaza and convenience stores, then turn right on Road No. 56 (Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road). The road splits, but don't worry, they join up again. Go 11.8 miles to the Gateway parking area and Middle Fork trailhead.