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Lord Hill Park Beaver Ponds—December 2001

Nothing appeals to me more, on a drizzly winter day, than to slog through the woods and sit by the edge of a hidden lake with a thermos of tea and drip like a tree. If splashing through mud puddles is not your cup of tea, a visit to the beaver ponds of Lord Hill Park is equally rewarding on a dry winter day.

Farmed, and logged as many as three times, this park of more than 1300 acres is part of the prominent volcanic ridge that towers over the Snohomish River SW of Monroe. Spring is the time to visit Lord Hill’s rocky bald. Anytime, the park is an excellent study in forest succession. Now, grab a map at the trailhead and set off to explore the Temple Pond Loop.

One approach is to head down from the parking lot through second-growth forest of Thuja plicata (western red-cedar), Tsuga heterophylla (western hemlock), Acer macrophyllum (bigleaf maple), Alnus rubra (red alder), Populus balsamifera (black cottonwood), Rubus spectabilis (salmonberry), and Tolmiea menziesii (piggyback plant). Hone your winter ID. skills by picking out the Prunus emarginata (bitter cherry), Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian-plum), Rhamnus purshiana (cascara), and Acer circinatum (vine maple). Cross several boardwalks until you reach the intersection with the main trail in 0.4 miles. Turn left and take the Beaver Lake Trail through red alders, watching for the very spiny stems of Ribes lacustre (swamp gooseberry). The trail curves to the right, and you may see a sign for Beaver Lake Trail 0.2. Soon the trail will fork. The right fork is signed Pipeline Trail. Take the left fork downhill to a bridge at the outlet of Beaver Lake. Turn right, heading south on the Pipeline Trail, 0.8 mile from the parking lot, and over a second bridge with Beaver Lake to your left.

Avoid the temptation to enter the woods at the outlet of Beaver Lake. A dandy cross-country connection can be made to Temple Pond, but it is more likely that one will become hopelessly lost. Old railroad grades, game trails, and flagging lead to “Danger Keep Out” signs and a quarry with active blasting.

So, make your merry way uphill on the Pipeline Trail. See if you can tell the Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass) from the Elymus glaucus (blue wildrye). Detour on an obvious path to check out active beaver logging. Do not try this on a windy day. Continue on the Pipeline trail to its intersection, 1.1 miles from the parking lot, with 1.6 mile Temple Pond Loop on your left.

Here enter some of the finest forest in the park. Forensic evidence of Hydrophyllum tenuipes (Pacific waterleaf), Achylis triphylla (vanillaleaf), Asarum caudatum (wild-ginger), Adiantum aleuticum (maidenhair fern), Bromus sitchensis (Alaska brome), and Trisetum cernuum (nodding trisetum) can be found. The fine lighter green blades of Carex deweyana (Dewey’s sedge) grow next to the wide darker green blades of C. hendersonii (Henderson’s sedge).

Beware of confusing trail offshoots on your left. If in doubt, bear to the right. Soon, you will pass a ravine full of Oplopanax horridus (devil’s club) and sense the pond’s outlet stream on your left. Brushwhacking can lead to two beaver dams, fresh bear scat, and a very heavy something crashing out of a tree.

Better perhaps, rest on a log surrounded by Linnaea borealis (twinflower) in the shelter of furrowed, middle-aged Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-firs). Then take any and all paths to the shore of Temple Pond. Here you can find all the shrubs mentioned, plus Lonicera involucrata (twinberry), Spiraea douglasii (hardhack), Amelanchier alnifolia (serviceberry), Salix ssp. (willows), and alien Cotoneaster.

Sedges include Carex lenticularis ( lenticular sedge), and C. vesicaria (inflated sedge), rushes Juncus effusis (soft rush), and less often J. ensifolius (dagger-leaf rush).

Pull out your thermos, sit awhile, and you may see bald eagles, a belted kingfisher, beavers, or river otters.

Then, continue on the Temple Pond Loop past a small pond with a large beaver lodge, past a patch of Hedera helix (English ivy), and back to the Pipeline Trail. Cross the trail and take the Cutoff Trail 0.1 mile to the Main Trail and right 1 mile to the park entrance.

This large park is full of confusing unmarked and unmapped trails, always muddy, and wonderfully wild.

Allow at least three hours for the moderate walk described. Come prepared with sturdy boots and the ten essentials.

Directions: from Snohomish, follow 2nd St. east to Lincoln and turn right. This becomes the Old Snohomish-Monroe Highway. In about 2.5 miles turn right on 127th Ave. SE. and drive another 1.6 miles uphill to the park entrance on the left. From Monroe, take the 164th St. exit from 522 and head west on Main St. toward Snohomish. This too becomes the Old Snohomish-Monroe Highway. Drive about 2 miles and turn left on 127th Ave. SE. and proceed as above.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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