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Rattlesnake Ridge— December 2010

By Erin Meier

I hiked Rattlesnake Ridge for the first time on a warm summer day, and the trail bustled with a multitude of determined hikers. In the winter, Rattlesnake Ridge is another experience entirely. A winter hike here is not about panoramic views, or the challenge of a 1300' elevation gain over just 2 miles. The cool air takes the bite out of the upward climb, and this hike becomes a more contemplative experience. On the day of our hike, the chill rain soaked through our raingear down to our skin. Yet we were delighted by the symphonic splash of the rain and the subdued light that seemed to give each plant its own luminescence.

As the quiet patter of rain fell around us we began our hike surrounded by Tsuga heterophylla and Acer circinatum. Spreading their branches wide in the understory, the maple' yellow leaves were a bright contrast to the dark trunks of the evergreens. Some of the vine maples branches were so overgrown in Kindbergia oregana that it seemed as though they had bathed in it. We saw a few desiccated though golden Oplopanax horridus that in this season had only retained a few of their spiked leaves. We followed a side trail to a charming and narrow creek with young Alnus rubra sprouting from the banks.

I enjoyed the views that we gained as we ascended the trail. It was intriguing to watch as the lake disappeared and reappeared through the mist. My friend was fascinated by the spare, delicate branches of Vaccinium parvifolium that make intricate lacy patterns without the distraction of foliage. Other pleasing finds, were the shrubby Sambucus racemosa, Rubus parviflorus and Physocarpus capitatus. As we gained the ridge, the wind picked up. Arctostaphylos columbiana and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi graced the trail at the forest's edge. Out of the shelter of the forest, we clambered over gargantuan rocks and were able to sight the lake as well as our lone car in the parking lot below.

Directions: From I-90 E, take Exit #32. Turn right off the exit onto 436 Ave SE. The road turns into Cedar Falls Rd SE. You'll see the blue "Rattlesnake Lake" signs on your right, turn there for the trailhead.



Updated: July 3, 2016
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