Boulder River, 04/19/09

We both wanted to get out of the house and take advantage of the [accurately] forecasted weather. With Spring just beginning in earnest and Nicole feeling less than one-hundred percent, we needed something both low and easy. I’d read of Boulder River in multiple sources, where it’d been referred to as, alternately, an early-season hike and a rainy day hike, and so we decided to make it our first “official” hike of the year.

I let Nicole sleep a little later than I normally would’ve, but we were out the door a little before 08:45 and on the road shortly after filling up the Forester. Directions were easy: I-5 North to WA-530 and a right on French Creek Road. Blink and you’ll miss French Creek Road, though–we nearly did. It’s just past a few newly developed homes; that’s probably very little help.

Nicole on the Boulder River Trail.

Nicole on the Boulder River Trail.

In any case, we reached the trailhead at the end of the road at 10:25, ten minutes after turning off WA-530. There were only four or five other cars in the parking lot. After booting up, we were off.

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The trail starts off flat and wide and stays that way for around twenty minutes, when you enter the Boulder River Wilderness. The left edge of the trail butts up to mossy vertical rock and the river is off to the right. The trail then narrows a bit, and climbs briefly. Just a few minutes after that, we reached the first falls. I snapped a few pictures, and then we moved on to the larger falls (which I’ve seen referred to as Feature Show Falls) a few yards further, where a group of ~10 people were just moving on.

Feature Show Falls and Boulder River.

Feature Show Falls and Boulder River.

River, rocks, and waterfall.

River, rocks, and waterfall.

Boulder River tributary.

Tributary.

Nicole sat on a perfectly placed bench while I took the small, steep side trail down to the base of the falls and set up my tripod. My widest wide-angle just fit everything in. Conscious that I’d left Nicole waiting, I only spent ~twenty minutes taking photos. At 11:20, we continued.

What Nicole looked like while I took pictures.

What Nicole looked like while I took pictures.

After the falls, the trees get a bit bigger and the trail gets rockier and ruttier, and gains minimal elevation. Here we started to see some snow on the side of the trail, but very little on the trail itself. After ~twenty minutes, a gradual decline, and the opening of trees to the sky, we arrived at a third falls, where the large group of hikers occupied themselves. We decided not to stop, planning only to do so for a quick photo on the way back out.

Patches McSnow.

Patches McSnow.

More mud and patches of snow, like the above, followed. We hadn’t planned on going very far, and I had no real sense of the distance that we had gone, so when we came to a moderate blowdown at about 12:00, it was as good as any excuse to call it an early day. The blowdown isn’t really an issue–the trail obviously skirts around the uphill side–but from what I’d read the trail just sort of peters out at an old ford of the river, so we weren’t driven onward to any particular goal.

Blowdown beyond the third waterfall turns away the lazy.

Blowdown beyond the third waterfall turns away the lazy.

We turned around and began the walk back. We moved over for the group that I believe was some sort of guided tour and let them pass. I took a snapshot of the third falls and the way out was uneventful aside from the multitude of families and dogs. We’d seen almost no one on the way in, but the way out was constant foot-and-paw-traffic.

What I like to call The Third Falls.

What I like to call The Third Falls.

Just after 13:00, we were back to the Forester, boots off and glad that we weren’t parked in–there were now cars parked at the side of the road quite far from the trailhead. All-in-all, it was a pleasant Sunday hike, with some good waterworks requiring minimal effort. It was nice to get some mud on our boots (and our car) and check one off the list. I definitely recommend it for an easy, family hike, and encourage you to get there early, or on a weekday, or both, if you want anything resembling solitude.

An hour-and-a-half to get there, ~2:30 on the trail and taking pictures, maybe ~4 or ~5 miles round-trip and ~500’ of elevation gain. I would like to go back and find the end of the trail. Maybe next Spring.

As always, a few more photos at Flickr.

hikers_50

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One Response to Boulder River, 04/19/09

  1. Pingback: The Year in Review, 2009 Edition « Don’t Look Down

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