Lime Kiln Trail + Heather Lake
The official dedication of this
was just the day before. I thought it would be nice to give it a try.
Even though the day was forecast to be rainy Suzanne agreed to come along.
I have hiked the old Everett and Monte Cristo railroad grade on the other
side of the river for years. I had tried to find this part of the grade
years back but failed. It was about time to explore this section of the
grade. We arrived at the trailhead at about 8:50. We were the first hikers
of the day. The lot has space for about 6 cars. There is a gated gravel road
leading to a larger lot a short distance away. The gate was locked when we
began and was still locked when we returned. The trail begins, as do all
new trails, with a section of gravel. Before too long it turns into good
old fashioned dirt. The total distance of the trail is 3.4 miles one way.
It ends where the old grade spanned the Stillaguamish River on a bridge which
has long been gone.
The dirt trail meets an old gravel road and begins to follow it. The
route is actually a combination of old roads and new trail linking them
together. That is until it reaches the old railroad grade. At that point
the roads are left behind. The grade itself is very flat but there are a
few ups and downs before it is reached. The grade begins fairly high above
the river. It descends very slowly as the river rises. The Stilly had taken
on its gray/green color and began to grow from its summer "trout stream"
status. We reached the lime kiln and took a few moments to check it out.
It is much taller than I was expecting. There are small openings on each
side. It is located just above the grade.
The lower trail looks very much like a rain forest. Moss hangs from most
of the trees. The earlier mist had by this time changed into rain as well.
As with most of my hikes this fall the way was lined with a variety of
mushrooms. I have seen more mushrooms this year than ever before. We reached
a sign signifying the start and end of a loop. We went right and climbed
then descended to the trail end. This is where the
spanned the river. The loop continued and reached a place where it is
easy to scramble down to rocks along the river. We were already wet enough
and chose to continue on. My only warning about the trail is that the bridges
are extremely slick when wet. A little chicken wire or some such would
prevent some nasty falls. The way back was easy with minimal elevation gain.
We finally met a few groups in the first mile of the trail.
The 6.8 mile hike only took about 2 1/2 hours and we were back at the
car around 11:30. Although the weather was bad we wanted to get in a little
more exercise. With the cloud cover at a few hundred feet Mt. Pilchuck
didn't seem too appealing. We drove up the Mt. Loop and finally settled
on a hike to Heather Lake. It had been at least a dozen years since I was
last there and even longer for Suzanne. I knew the trail had been rebuilt
and was curious to see what it's like. I remembered the old trail as being
short and wet with rotting boardwalks. I also remembered it starting up
the road from the parking lot. The new trail starts right across from the
There were half a dozen cars in the lot as we headed out at about noon.
The dogs were surprised to get a second opportunity this day and didn't mind
the rain at all. The new trail, like all new trails, is very gently graded.
It is also a little longer. The sign says 2 miles and it seemed to be just
a little more than that. We switchbacked up until reaching an old road.
The road has been freshly graveled. It turns to the right and contours for
a ways before beginning to climb again. At some point soon after the old
trail is met. It is narrower and steeper but is still very easy. The rain
was very much in evidence as the trail had running water in many places.
Even so, it was not deep enough to dampen my feet.
At long last the route flattened and we entered the lake basin. There
were many good sized puddles in the trail here. We reached the lake shore
and could barely see across it. We were in the clouds and the rain was picking
up. The dogs couldn't miss an opportunity like this and Sadie was quick
to dive in. Wet as it was it never felt cold. I had heard that a trail was
built all the way around the lake, much of it on boardwalks. The weather
was so lousy that we decided to forget going around and just head back.
When we soon reached a junction Suzanne wanted to follow it a short ways
to see a bridge over the outlet she had seen from the shore. The boardwalk
bridge was very long. After that she went a little farther, then a little
farther... It soon became apparent that we were on our way around the lake.
There were a number of waterfalls crashing down the nearly vertical back
wall of the lake. One in particular was outstanding.
The route is partly on boardwalks and partly on dirt. It makes it very
easy to circle the lake. When we arrived back at our starting point we
took the trail on the right and began our descent. The wet rocky sections
proved to not be as slick as I feared. We had no trouble coming down the
trail. There is one big log across the route. It's not too hard to get
over but it does need to be removed so short legs can get by easily. We
took about 50 minutes to hike up and a little less for the descent. This
hike is too short to justify a whole day of hiking but is a nice complement
to a hike up Pilchuck or to Lake 22.
Even with less than perfect weather we had a good time. We had a chance
to check out a brand new trail and return to an old destination which had
a trail largely new to us. After many months of warm and dry hikes this was
a good reminder of what late season hikes are like. It was also a good chance
to try out my new rain jacket. Nothing is waterproof and breathes well enough
when hiking uphill but it is a huge improvement over my old gear. All in
all, it was a good day of hiking.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Suzanne On The Trail
Lime Kiln Front
Side Of Kiln
Trips - 2004