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Boulder River Trail — March 2010

By Erin Meier

The Boulder River Trail meanders through lowland forests above and beside the river, and is a rewarding lowland hike for late winter. Follow a dirt road past a few newly built houses out to the trailhead, and parking should be easy to find this time of year. The hike itself has an easy grade, and should present no great challenge for the curious plantsman…ah, woman. This is an out and back trail, approximately seven miles round trip. On the other hand, should winter rains task your fortitude, you will find that the walk to the waterfalls, about a mile or so, is a satisfying endeavour unto itself.

The glossy greens of Gaultheria shallon and Berberis nervosa shone in contrast to the mosses, lichens and liverworts that spread along the edge of the trail and over rocks and logs. My friend and I were pleased to identify some charming Polytrichum juniperinum growing near a Vaccinium ovatum. The reddish tips of the Vaccinium were particularly arresting against the grayish winter backdrop. Thuja plicata, Tsuga heterophylla and Taxus brevifolia all grew in this forest. Some were quite massive and boasted an intriguing eco-system just within the crevices of their bark. On the forest floor, the familiar saxifrage Tolmiea menziesii, unfurled their gleaming heart shaped leaves.

The white lace-like waterfalls, which cascade over rocky cliffs into the river below, are a striking point of interest to anyone, including those persons who are not as interested in plant life as yourself. Thus you will have plenty of opportunities to botanize, while your companions enjoy the view. We found some bare, though still prickly-stalked and menacing, Oplopanax horridum growing in a great swath as we walked away from the river. Other shrubs present included the Physocarpus capitatus and Rubus spectabilus. This would be an excellent hike should you choose to take junior botanists with you. Indeed there is a bounty of native plants along the trail, as well as fungi and the occasional fauna.

Directions: From I-5 take Highway 530, past Arlington, to just beyond milepost 41. Turn right on French Creek Road (Road 2010) and follow about. 3.6 miles to the end of the road.

Updated: July 2, 2016
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