5-day hikes from Seattle that end with surprising mysterious objects
One foot in front of the other
Whether it’s forest litter or the ruins of a cabin once owned by an influential Seattle family, the signs of human intervention in nature can be a new sight – and even disturbing. But if you feel like you’ve hiked every hike in under two hours of driving in our year of COVID-19, finding something unexpected with your elevation gain may be a way to break the monotony. , and Washington State is home to many. of these mysterious hikes, with artificial wonders.
Kindra Ramos, director of communications and outreach at the Washington Trails Association, loves the moss-covered phone booth near the Hoh River Visitor Center. Thanks to layers of green moss, the wooden craft looks eerily (adorable!) Anthropomorphized, or as if it has a thatched roof.
Nathan Barnes, who is co-author of several outdoor guides (most recently “Washington Wildflower Hikes: 50 Destinations”), recommends a fireplace from a 1930s ski cabin at Snow Lake, mine shafts and a wreck. from B-52 to the Tubal Cain mines and the old rail tunnels of the Spruce Railroad Trail.
Similar sites abound on subsequent hikes to the northwest. Have fun, don’t bring any artifacts along the trails home with you, check out recent trail reports (some of these hikes may still be snowy) and heed these words from Ramos: “[Relics like mailboxes, fairy houses or other creations] may be fun to meet on a hike, but ultimately their presence often violates Leave No Trace. The entertaining distraction of one person at the edge of the track is someone else’s trash, so it’s best to remind people not to leave improvements behind when you hike.”
Bullitt Chimney Trail
The Bullitt Fireplace Trail might not be the first trail you think of when it’s time to head to the Issaquah Alps, but it is arguably home to the strangest landmark in the trail system: a fireplace. Not a hut, not a wall, just a huge stone fireplace in a clearing at the top of the hill.
The fireplace is all that remains of a cabin that once belonged to one of Seattle’s most influential families: the Bullitts, who have played a role in everything from King Broadcasting Co. to a wide range of philanthropic efforts. , including environmental and educational causes. (Outdoor enthusiasts probably know Harriet Bullitt as the driving force behind Sleeping Lady, Leavenworth’s eco-retreat.)
The hike to the chimney begins at an access point in the Squak Mountain neighborhood, at a hairpin bend on Mountainside Drive. (The town of Issaquah offers baroque but useful directions.) The 2.1 mile trip isn’t terribly exciting: it’s a big uphill walk, but with plenty of trees to keep you cool and views. panoramic here and there; you will also pass a swampy area that looks like the dead swamps in “The Lord of the Rings”. After 2 miles you will be on the homestretch. Crest a hill and you can’t miss the fireplace. A strangely isolated piece of local Bullitts history, it’s boxed stonework nestled among the trees, a pleasantly bizarre fusion of the domestic world and the natural world. There is also a picnic table so this is the perfect place to take a break for lunch before heading back down.
Barnes recommends the Bullitt Fireplace Trail as a ‘good family hike’ with ‘a bit of history’ but points out that ‘there is no more view by the fireplace’, which is true: you are in. height, but the views are obscured. However, there is sometimes an advantage to being blind: smaller crowds.
Total mileage: 4 miles round trip
Altitude gain: 1,100 feet
Lime Kiln Trail
Off the Mountain Loop Highway near Granite Falls, you can find a number of odd remains along the trails of long-extinct forest communities and the now defunct Everett and Monte Cristo Railroad, including the ghost town of Monte Cristo. . Among the strangest finds is a kiln once used to turn mined limestone into quicklime, the common chemical compound better known as calcium oxide.
To get there, take the Lime Kiln Trail, which begins in Robe Canyon Historical Park and takes hikers through the canyon and along the Stillaguamish River. Eventually, the now slightly mossy oven rises off the track.
It’s unlikely to be the only reminder of the past you come across. “The time and effort that went into the railroad that briefly went up this valley is impressive,” said Barnes. “It’s still thick with artifacts from that time.”
Total mileage: 11 km round trip
Altitude gain: 625 feet
Dirty Harry’s Peak
If you think of Clint Eastwood, this is the other. Dirty Harry’s Peak is named after Harry Gault, who once ran an aggressive independent logging company in this mountainous region near the Snoqualmie Pass. Barnes calls it “a great adventure”, in part because the surprise (Dirty Harry’s truck!) Requires digging.
Start by walking 3.5 miles to Dirty Harry’s Balcony (and views of Snoqualmie Valley), then follow the trail through the switchbacks uphill to the Dirty Harry Museum, where you’ll find the large and rusty vehicle .
“The machinery can be a little hard to find, but it’s exciting when you finally do it,” Barnes said. “It can’t be seen from the trailhead and it’s kind of magical as you push through the brush to find whatever is lying there slowly rusting away.
The route to the Dirty Harry Museum is rugged and not on an official trail, so this hike may require exploration and orientation – and may not be a good idea for inexperienced hikers.
Total mileage: 9 km round trip
Altitude gain: 2,800 feet
While it’s not wise to try now (recent visitors report snow), Mailbox Peak is an obvious choice for a summer scavenger hunt hike. Gaining elevation will increase your ability, and your reward for the challenge is a stunning view from the top, along with another trail-side curiosity – the iconic mailbox awaits.
A non-sequitur covered with stickers, the letterbox often contains strange treasures left by hikers; it’s a bizarre record of heavy foot traffic on Washington’s trails, a mystery prize for reaching the top.
Barnes calls Mailbox Peak “a classic” that has “everything a good training hike needs – relatively easy to get to and a grueling climb.” It has also undergone improvements in recent years. “A lot of the rougher edges were shaved when the new trail opened in 2014,” Barnes said. “The expansion of the parking area also helped to avoid overcrowding along Middle Fork Road.”
But even with these upgrades, beware: Mailbox Peak is an especially popular hiking destination, so plan to get there early and be prepared to adhere to COVID-19-based best hiking practices. Bring (and wear!) A face mask, pack whatever you take and walk through with care and away from other hikers.
Total mileage: 15 km round trip
Altitude gain: 4000 feet
The Stump House at Guillemot Cove
If you ever made fairy rings as a kid, Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve, located near Seabeck, has a hike you’ll love. The short trip takes hikers to a structure called the Stump House, a pretty, stocky structure built from a giant cedar tree with a door and windows.
The Stump House is said to have been built by an escaped convict named Dirty Thompson, but while some routes on this list are best for more experienced hikers, the ride through this former hideaway is decidedly kid-friendly with low mileage and low elevation. and a hobbit-y reward for the effort.
Total mileage: 4 km round trip
Altitude gain: 360 feet