Thursday, May 3, 2012

cedar butte

Northwest hikers know to expect crowds on early season, sunny weekends. With so many trails covered in snow, folks are flocking to trails which are accessible, family friendly and known. But, at least one trail still holds a handful of solitude without having to throw 'trail elbows'. So, with a warm e-handshake...Cedar Butte, meet my hiker friends. Hiker Cedar Butte!

With cars backed up on both sides of the Cedar Falls Road, I passed right by Rattlesnake Ledge Trail and headed towards Cedar Butte; a favorite and relatively crowd-free option. Some of you have met Cedar Butte already, but those that haven't deserve to get acquainted with the woodsy trail and peaceful beauty of this hill.

Cedar Butte Loop
R/T distance: 5 miles total (including 2 on the John Wayne Trail/Iron Horse, 3 on Cedar Butte trail)
Elevation gain: 900 feet
Directions: From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 32 (436th Avenue SE). Turn right (south) on 436th Avenue SE (Cedar Falls Road SE) and drive about 4.5 miles, passing the Rattlesnake Lake parking area, until you find the Iron Horse/John Wayne Trailhead parking area on the left.

Head east on the John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail for almost one mile. The John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail is biker friendly, so to save time, occasionally I ride my bike and lock it up near the trailhead. Just past the bridge over Boxley Creek, keep a sharp eye out to the right for a well-worn trail. Since this trail is 'unofficial' it doesn't get the signage and promotion of the others. Because of this it also doesn't get the crowds. The trail is skinny, woodsy and inviting; head on in!

In roughly 1/4 of a mile you come upon a fork in the trail, marked by an old sign with an arrow pointing right and a stack of rocks (cairn). You can go either straight or right at this point as it makes a loop. I recommend going straight, which starts climbing through sallal in a decent huff and puff.

Before long, arrive at a flat shelf with signs pointing toward the summit. Head towards the summit (to the left/east) and on the way, get a couple views of Rattlesnake Lake through the trees. Before long, you are standing on a nice flat summit with a beautiful sitting log and a benchmark to prove you are there! Enjoy the limited views to the east and head back down toward the flat shelf. SIDE NOTE: This trail doesn't have postcard views into the valley, but rather peek-a-boo views of the neighboring peaks through the trees. It's a nice place to catch your breath, have a snack, and enjoy standing on top of the butte.

Once back at the shelf, instead of turning right (the way you came), head straight (west) and follow the trail towards the Boxley Blowout, which holds a very interesting, and somewhat tragic story found HERE. Little is left of the Blowout except deciduous trees and a deep ravine, but perhaps even more spectacular as you hike this section of trail, is the beautiful display of vine maple trees. Covered in moss, their fingered limbs reach in all directions making this a perfect setting for a haunting fable. Meander along the well worn trail until you arrive back at the fork and turn left, back towards the John Wayne/Iron Horse.

May flowers: Trillium, Marsh Violet (yellow), Flowering Red Currant, Salmonberry.

No comments:

Post a Comment