Back in 1992 I
found an interesting
trip in the book "Footsore 2". A close in low elevation hike where you
can drive to a waterfall and hike to a lake. I must have liked it since
I did the trip three times in one month. I had not been back since. A
few years ago I found out that logging had obliterated some of the
trail. It fell farther off the radar screen. It came back up when Brian
on nwhikers.net hiked some of the trail and did a major clean up of the
lower trail. I was intrigued and joined Brian and some other hikers on
a return clean up trip with an attempt to find the trail to Echo Lake.
I was the only one in the group who had hiked to Echo Lake.
Kathy and I carpooled together from North Seattle. There is no easy
direct way to get to the trailhead. We headed towards Granite Falls and
took the Machias Road and a few others to get to Lake Roesiger. I
recalled a dirt road from the lake to the base of Explorer Falls Things
have changed. Now the road is paved and gated just over a mile before
the trail start near the falls. We arrived at 9:00 am and Brian was
already there. The others would be along soon so we started ahead using
the extra time to do some of the clean up work.
It was easier when I was able to drive the road though it's an easy
mile walk. To the right of the road is the Everett watershed and
numerous "no trespassing" signs. In short order we reached the unsigned
trailhead. The falls can be heard and seen just a short ways off the
road. We broke out the garbage sacks as there was a pile of garbage
right there. A short walk brought us to near the base of the falls and
very nice views. Soon we were heading up the trail. Along the road in
is Camp Brinkley, a boy scout camp. The scouts built this trail and do
some maintenance. The trail begins with gentle switchbacks that climb
to the top of the falls. Next is an easy crossing of Woods Creek. On
the other side we quickly found several campsites. These were just
piles of trash.
Brian didn't have time to totally clean these up on his previous trip.
Chairs, bottles, plastic, and just plain trash. We filled bags and left
it to be picked up on the way out. Another series of switchbacks climbs
to the ridge top. We took one more detour to another campsite that
Brian had cleaned up before. There was very little left to pack
out. Part way up the switchbacks we heard barking as the rest
our group caught up. Kent, his daughter Jessica, Joanna, and four more
dogs joined us. We reached the ridge, hiked along it a short way, and
came to the clear cut.
We were hiking in the clouds and visibility was minimal. Even so the
cut looked vast. Brian, Kent, and Kathy had been up beyond this point
in the last few weeks. A trail has been built through the slash and
logs to a logging road. The old trail is not easy to see as it leaves
this new route within 75' of the start of the clear cut. It goes left
and stays at the far left side of the cut. It has been cleared too. We
took the old trail and switchbacked uphill to a flat ridge top. This
trail also goes on to the logging road. The old trail turns off left
and descends a short way to a creek. Across it is a shelter.
The old trail had a big shelter built by the scouts. It came down in
recent years and a new one has replaced it on the same spot. It was
already 11:30 and time for a lunch break. After that we headed on via
the old trail. An old cut log verified we were on the original trail.
Unfortunately, the trail soon ended in more clear cut. Going straight
ahead about 1/4 mile would take us to the logging road. Rather than
fight slash and downed logs we chose to head back. Across the creek and
up the short climb brought us back to the "new" trail. The tall mounds
of logging debris and the clouds made for an eerie feel.
We quickly reached the road and headed left hoping to find where the
old trail crossed the road. The road has already been massacred by
trenching. Many deep trenches dug in the road with the dirt piled up on
both sides. Trails and bridges led around the first ones. Someone has
been busy. We came to another road heading off to our right. Kent has
been a ways up this one. We chose to keep on the main road looking for
the old trail. All the trenches ahead had no bridges. It was a lot of
work to climb down and back up each one. Some were more than 20 feet
deep. Brian thought he found an old railroad grade heading off left
towards the shelter. I had loaded a GPS track from the shelter area
straight to the lake and this grade was right on the line. I have never
seen an actual map showing the trail so we had to guess the exact
On the other side of the road was a more obvious old grade. It was a
bit swampy with a number of trees down near the road. I went a short
way in and thought this might be the old trail as it was on a railroad
grade at this point. We chose to head farther on the road as it was
believed the road would switch back and meet the railroad grade father
along. The trenches got deeper and more cumbersome to get across. Two
members chose to head back to the shelter and the rest of us continued
on. In time we came to an intersection. This was a much older road. We
chose to turn right towards the lake. Not too much farther along the
road came to an end.
Studying satellite photos after the trip it is clear that turning left
at the intersection will take you, with a few more turns, to very near
Echo Lake. Much longer but it would work. We headed back. At the
railroad grade crossing I headed down to take a closer look. After
fighting through some downed trees the going became much better. The
ponds also went away. There is no doubt in my mind that we were on the
old trail to the lake once again. The GPS said we were 1.70 miles away.
I will be back this winter to finish the job. Echo Lake is really not
all that scenic but I want to finish unraveling the mystery of the
disappearing trail. Especially before logging obliterates more of it.
We retraced out steps back to the "new trail". On the way Brian and
Kent removed two big heavy filters from big logging machinery. We
also found two logging boots sitting on a stump. Our group got back
together at the shelter. From there it's all downhill. We stopped to
pick up all the garbage we had collected in the morning. I had about 10
lbs. of chairs strapped to my daypack. The road walk was not a great
way to finish a hike but it goes by quickly.
I can report that the trail is nearly garbage free now. Much thanks to
all who helped. The route to the lake has not been definitively found
but I'm almost sure I have it figured out now. As expected, we saw
exactly zero people as this is not a heavily used area. It is a nice
low elevation winter hiking area. If the old railroad grade does not
have many downed trees it may be very hikable without too much
difficulty. I saw the falls again after nearly 18 years. I saw the
lower trail. I saw a shelter though not the one I remember. I also
think the lake is back within reach again. Not a bad way to do some
good and have a day of exploration in the Puget Sound lowlands. For the
day we hiked just over 8 miles with about 1200' of gain.
The others have posted reports and photos including Brian's GPS track
Report & Photos
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
First Look At Falls
Pile Of Garbage
Trail Through Clear Cut
Group In Shelter
Cut Log On Old Trail
On The "New Trail"
Dogs In Road Trench
On The Road Again
Avoiding More Trenches
The Biggest Trench
"Old Trail" In Distance
Boots On A Stump
Back To The Shelter
Trips - 2010