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Trip Report

Federation Forest State Park

Mount Rainier Area

Trip Report By

WTA Member

 

100 

Hiked Mar 13, 2021

Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Obstacles on trail:
    Trees down across trail,
    Muddy or wet trail.

Road

Road suitable for all vehicles

Bugs

Bugs were not too bad

Snow

Snow free

After a difficult week, I was looking for something not too far away that would get me out into some trees with running water as a bonus but, more importantly, would hopefully have minimal people.  Figured I'd give Federation Forest a try, and it definitely hit the spot!  Only saw 7 people all day (and 7 dogs, all on leash). 

The main parking lot and Interpretive Center are still closed, though from the looks of things they might be opening soon.  All bathrooms are also locked (including the one at the eastern picnic area). 

I parked at the small parking lot a little west of the main lot.  This is still part of the State Park, so be sure to bring your Discover Pass (there's no payment kiosk at this location). I got there at a little before 10 AM and was the first one in the lot, which could hold probably around 8-10 cars depending on how people park. When I got back in the early afternoon there were only three other cars in the lot.

Initially I started out going west on the Old Naches Trail. There’s a very large tree down over the trail about 400 feet from the parking lot that has been there quite a while. On one side someone has put up a half a stump to use as a ramp to get up and over, which makes it not too difficult to navigate.

This western bit of the Old Naches Trail was pretty wet and muddy in spots, including one section with a little stream running down the trail.  Have a care, because there are some deep mud pits that are looking to catch you unaware (which I learned the hard way my last visit).  Thankfully there are downed limbs or stumps that made getting through fairly straight forward.  Would not wear sneakers on this bit, however.

Boardwalks were mostly in good condition. There were a handful of broken or missing boards, but nothing that hinders travel.

At about 0.3 miles from the highway parking lot are a bunch of blowdowns over the trail along with a sign proclaiming that the trail is closed due to hazardous locations.  Looking back over past trip reports, it looks like this damage happened during the winter of 2015/2016, so I don't expect the Old Naches trail west of this to be passable any time soon.

At this point I turned around and went east on the Land of the Giants and White River trails all the way to the little picnicking spot along the river at the eastern side of the park. There were signs of recent trail maintenance, with a couple large blowdowns having been recently chainsawed and smaller trees moved to the side of the trail.  Thank you very much for you hard work!!  There were a couple smaller trees (3-ish inch diameter) that were still on the trails I took, but these were easily stepped over. The trails in the eastern part of the park are mostly dry.  There was a very short, slushy patch of snow still on the trail, but it didn't cause any issues.  The only other lingering snow were dustings off trail in a few areas and some larger piles in the parking areas where I assume it had been plowed. 

The trail that goes from the large picnic area in the east to the Group Picnic Site was still fenced off on the eastern end, though the fence was flat on the ground. I just went back around on the White River Trail and then took the Ester Maltby Trail up to the Interpretive Center, as I wasn't in a hurry.

From the closed Interpretive Center I crossed 410 and walked along a bit on the old North Trail.  You can't go west at all from this point due to the mass of blowdowns, again from back in 2015/2016 from what I can tell.  You can head east a bit, though it's clear that it sees far more use from deer than people.  Lots of blowdowns, though initially they could all be gotten over (though people shorter than 5'-9" might have a little trouble with a couple). 

At about 0.2 miles from where you cross 410 things get a little confusing.  There's what used to be an old access road many, many, many years ago (there's a gate along 410 at this location) that seems to be the most obvious continuation of the North Trail. There's even a pedestrian bridge of the same type used in the park south of 410 at about 0.3 miles from the road crossing.  This goes up hill slightly and away from 410 a bit, however, whereas all the maps I've seen for the original North Trail show it staying at pretty much a consistent elevation and staying closer to 410 along this area. I didn't see any obvious trail heading east that would have match that route, however, so I continued up the obvious trail to aforementioned bridge. 

Last year I was able to continue somewhat confident I was on a "trail" of some description for about 0.5 miles east, but now there is a blowdown right after the bridge (literally, it just missed the bridge) that I didn't feel like dealing with.  So I turned around, recrossed 410, hit the Whispering Hemlocks loop trail for Bingo and made my way back to the car on the West Trail.  Gaia clocked me in at a total of 5.6 miles, but more important to me was getting out for some peace and nature!! 

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